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BuglifeWildlife & countryside news

Tasty snails in peril… or maybe not any more.

Matthew Chatfield

The Times has the courage to highlight the plight of the the edible Burgundy snail (Helix pomatia), pointing out the concerns of Buglife, which campaigned to make it illegal to collect the snails from the wild for eating. It’s a pleasure to see the mainstream media for once taking a stance on invertebrate conservation. David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth is an honourable and outstanding exception.

Helix pomatia (c) Max Westby


The Ranger would have found the article more convincing, however, if it had not described Burgundy snails in the headline as “big, tasty snails“, and then gone on – apparently quoting Buglife – to say how to collect them, what parts of the country to look in, and then, just in case you didn’t get the idea, provide a tempting recipe showing how to cook them. Possibly if the same had been done for baby seals there may have been some sort of complaint.

(This story was first posted Nov 2005, and updated in 2008, 2013) Note that since 2008 H. pomatia now has legal protection so do not try collecting them – it’s illegal in England! See more about this interesting change in the law in our second post on this topic.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

4 thoughts on “Tasty snails in peril… or maybe not any more.

  • Tim Hart

    Thank for solving a mystery, saw numerous Burgandy Snails along the North Downs Way earlier today and wondered what they were called. They were enjoying the rain and wet grass!

  • The Virtual Ranger

    I’ve often been tempted to essay the cooking of garden snails, although squeamishness has so far kept me from putting such a dastardly plan into action. What were they like? Did you fatten them up on bran or whatever you’re supposed to do first?

  • David Larkin

    Were common enough on the North Downs when I was a kid (I even made a snail farm!). Hadn’t seen one for several decades until I saw one in Slovenia this year.
    Haven’t tried eating them, have tried garden snails though, not really worth it although the revenge factor does add a little spice!


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