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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 11:16 GMT
Rare snail habitat is protected
Two-lipped door snail (R) and the hairy German snail
The snails thrive on the island
An island on the River Thames which provides a haven for wildlife, including rare snails, is to officially become a local nature reserve.

The 10-acre Isleworth Ait site in Hounslow, west London, which houses the outfall from the Mogden sewage works, has been awarded protected status.

This promotes nature conservation and protection from new developments.

The two-lipped door snail and the hairy German snail, two of England's most endangered molluscs, inhabit the area.

Islands eroded

The London Wildlife Trust site is also a valuable asset for birdlife with 57 species, including cormorants, kingfishers and a colony of herons, having been recorded there.

Mandy Timpson, chair of the Isleworth Ait Management Committee Group which looks after the island, said: "We are very pleased to have the status of this fascinating river island officially recognised.

"The team of volunteers that maintain the island have been working towards this for a long time."

The hairy German snail is thought to grow hairs through its shell so the mollusc can sweat off moisture, making its slime stickier, allowing it to stay fixed to the plant it is feeding upon.

The species is found in the River Lee and the Thames in London and the Thames in Oxfordshire, as well as in the River Medway in Kent.

The two-lipped door snail lives almost exclusively in the Thames in London except for a colony in Purfleet, Essex.

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