Kasia Ruta looking at a jar of pond mud snails in the Edinburgh Zoo breeding facility 

IMAGE: Jess Wise 2022

Invertebrates are in decline globally, which has profound consequences for the healthy functioning of ecosystems. RZSS is determined to stand up for the little guys when it comes to species conservation and to run programmes that help reverse this decline.

Pond mud snails (Omphiscola glabra) are a small species of freshwater aquatic snail, about the size of a fingernail, that typically live in temporary habitats like ponds, marshes and small ditches. Once widespread, this vulnerable species’ distribution is now limited to a handful of sites in Britain.

Edinburgh Zoo is home to a growing population of pond mud snails that are part of our conservation breeding programme and Highland Wildlife Park is home to a secondary insurance population. We have been successfully breeding the species in our dedicated facility at the zoo since 2017. During that time, we have greatly enhanced existing knowledge of how to care for them.

RZSS conducted a release of pond mud snails into the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Red Moss of Balerno reserve in Edinburgh's Pentland hills in 2018 and we carry out monthly monitoring of the release site. This allows us to gain a better understanding of the conditions the snails encounter in their natural habitat and gather knowledge to inform decisions on further releases.

Over the next few years, we plan to expand our work on the species and conduct annual releases into the Pentlands, which would give a much-needed boost to the population of snails that call this site home.  

Our Partners

Project type

Conservation translocation icons

Conservation translocation

The team

Kasia Ruta

Kasia Ruta

Conservation project officer

Adam Button

Adam Button

Experienced animal keeper

Laura Daniels

Laura Daniels

Assistant conservation project officer

Helen Taylor releasing dark bordered beauty moths

IMAGE: Jess Wise 2023

Dr Helen Taylor

Conservation programme manager

Project updates

Date: April 2024

Our charity has been breeding pond mud snails for release since 2017. Following our recent 'snail census' at Edinburgh Zoo, a group of snails has been moved to Highland Wildlife Park to act as an insurance population.

Close up of a pond mud snail in the wild on a finger tip

IMAGE: Laura Moore 2022

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