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This Stunning “Fire Snail” Only Lives in a 100Km Radius in Malaysia

Endemic to a very specific area on the Malaysian Peninsula, the Fire Snail – named after its bright red foot – is one of the rarest, most sought after snail species in the world.

Platymma tweediei was first discovered in 1938, in Telom Valley, Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands district. Since then, it has also been spotted Temenggor and Kelantan, but nowhere else. According to conservationist Junn Kitt Foot, from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), the stunning-looking snail species can only be found in a 100km radius in the Cameron Highlands, as it only thrives in very specific conditions. Apparently fire snails can only live in very cool, humid environments, more specifically cloud forests – forests located high enough for clouds to form in (at least 1,000 meters above sea level).

Photo: Max’s Exotic Garden/Facebook

The largest native land snail in Peninsular Malaysia, Platymma tweediei has a distinctive black shell that can grow up to 7cm in diameter, and a bright red foot that earned it the name ‘fire snail’. It is this because of this stunning combination that this very rare snail has become very popular among snail collectors and enthusiasts all around the world. Unfortunately, its popularity may be one of the reasons why it is becoming extinct.

 

In an article published on ResearchGate, Junn Kitt Foot reports that even within the 100km radius that makes up its habitat, the fire snail is very rarely seen. That may be because of the massive deforestation taking place in Cameron Highlands, but also because of the lucrative fire snail trade. Threads on snail raising forums suggest that the species is very popular among enthusiasts, who often resort to smuggling in order to get their hands on the rare mollusks.

 

Unfortunately, as is the case with most creatures endemic to cloud forest, fire snails do not survive for long when taken out of their natural habitat, and they certainly cannot be bred in captivity. That means that enthusiasts have no other alternative than constantly getting new adult specimens to keep their hobby going.

 

According to Junn Kitt Foot research, fire snails are very popular among collectors in Germany, Russia or the UK, but also in Malaysia.