State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Viviparus viviparus (Linnaeus, 1758)

  • Helix vivipara Linnaeus, 1758
  • Nerita fasciata O.F.Müller, 1774
  • Viviparus fasciatus (Müller, 1774)
  • Viviparus fluviorum Montfort, 1810
Vernacular Name
Common River Snail
Conservation status
No status defined
Value of species
This is a European species, which is found in Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic (in Bohemia only), Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, Great Britain, Ireland and other countries. Viviparus viviparus is largely confined to major, slow-moving, lowland rivers and to lakes and prefers calcareous (base-rich) waters. They are often found in deep water.They are sometimes found in dense clusters (reaching thousands of individuals) on submerged branches and on various man-made objects present under water. More rarely, they are present more scattered in bottom mud, and then are much more discreet. They are also found in canals, artificial ponds, the water behind dams and in reservoirs but usually not in small isolated standing waters. They require high oxygen content. Viviparus viviparus species feeds on plankton and organic microdebris in suspension in the water and picked up through the siphon which allows the animal to breathe while filtering the water.This filter feeding habit makes it popular with owners of ponds or aquariums where they are known to consume filamentous algae, some microalgae, cyanophytes and waste solids and thus help to purify and clarify the water.They may however carry some parasites. As its latin name suggests, it is a viviparous (oviviparous) snail, a rare phenomenon among snails.The female gives birth to live young, after producing eggs that hatch internally. The naturalist Jan Swammerdam, was the first to recognize the viviparous character of this species to which he gave the name of Cochlea mirabilis and Cochlea vivipara but he seems not even have understood that there were males and females in this species (most other snails are hermaphroditic). Then in 1863 Émile Baudelot clearly states that among the paludines (river snails) there are two distinct sexes "The male system extends from the anterior end of the right tentacle to the top of the spire. We may consider it four distinct portions, which are going from top to bottom, the testis, vas deferens, seminal reservoir and the penis. The male is distinguished by a shorter and round tipped right tentacle, which also serves as a penis during fertilization:the female is usually slightly larger than the male at the same age, and it has two identical tentacles. Sexual maturity is reached after two years, when the snail is about 2 cm long.Each female bears eggs (up to 30 and at all stages of development) with a size of 3 to 7 mm in diameter and up to the full development of the embryo. At the time of their expulsion, the young are about 7 mm and their shell is already marked with the characteristic stripes of the river snails. After producing all its young, the female dies. In 1879 Mathias Duval made studies of spermatogenesis in Viviparus viviparus. Principle predators are fish et certain insects (Coleoptera, Hemiptera...) Viviparus viviparus is an intermediate host of several species of trematodes which finish their life cycles in mammals and birds.
Book reference
  • Гураль Р.І., Гураль-Сверлова Н.В. Каталог прісноводних молюсків України [Електронний ресурс]. – 2018. – 317с.
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  • Шацьке поозер’я. Тваринний світ: кол. моногр. / А.-Т.В. Башта, В.К. Бігун, М.Г. Білецька [та ін.]; за ред. П.Я. Кілочицького. – Луцьк : Вежа-Друк, 2016. - 610 с. (Електронне видання на CD-ROM)
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Taxonomic branch