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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 November 2005, 13:14 GMT
Breeding success for rare snails
Bermudan land snail
Experts have been studying the snails' breeding patterns
Rare snails flown to London Zoo in an attempt to save them from extinction have successfully reproduced.

A colony of 56 Bermudan land snails were brought to the UK in February after the native population fell to critically low levels.

The species, of which less than 300 remain, is being driven to extinction by predatory snails and Argentine ants.

After successful breeding there are now about 70 adults and 157 juveniles at the zoo in Regent's Park, north London.

The Bermuda Natural History Museum, which had been monitoring the snails, asked the zoo for help after numbers among the single surviving colony fell dramatically.

'Remarkable snails'

A programme was designed to establish a secure population away from their natural habitat and improve knowledge of the creatures to help conserve them.

Experts have been closely monitoring egg batches and hatchling snails to clarify average clutch size, incubation periods, time taken for snails to reach maturity and life expectancy.

This information will be fed back into Bermuda's on-going conservation efforts to save the species.

Paul Pearce-Kelly, curator of invertebrates at London Zoo, said: "Being an overseas territory, Bermuda's threatened wildlife is of direct British concern and responsibility.

"Indeed, it is on the overseas territories where almost all of our internationally significant British species occur - a prime example being these remarkable snails."


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