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Tylomenia, The Rabbit Snails of Sulawesi

Rabbit snailSpring is upon us and with the air of the Easter season lingering, many of us are still thinking about cute little bunnies. It seemed obvious (ok, not really obvious) that I should write about the snails from the genus Tylomenia. Why write about them? Because they are known in the hobby as Rabbit snails!

When I first saw these snails on a website, I was pretty intrigued. Tylomenia snails are from the rugged mountain lakes of Sulawesi. Sulawesi is one of the larger Indonesian islands and, because of its topography, boasts some very beautiful shrimp and snails that are known only to live on that island. Rabbit snails come in a pretty amazing spectrum of colors and patterns. Some are orange, some are canary yellow, and some are black, while others are black with tiny white speckles.  They have long cone-shaped shells that vary in coloration and pattern from species to species. Some are black and heavily textured, while others are more smooth and have a rich golden or brown coloration. One thing that all of the Tylomenia snails have in common is that they have one of the most oddly shaped “heads” of any snail I have seen. With long drooping antennae and a long thick mouth, they certainly have one of the most original and distinctive looks of any snail.  

Rabbit snailTylomenia are excellent scavengers, and will feed on left over foods. They will also consume algae and plant matter. I have noticed that each species is a little different in its desire to feed on plants. I have seen orange Rabbit snails and chocolate Rabbit snails eat plants like crazy. As a matter of fact, the speed at which they ate through the leaves of Java fern was pretty amazing! While those two species of Rabbit snails were busy destroying Java fern, two other species seem to be completely harmless to plants. Both the Towuti white-spotted and the yellow antenna varieties seemed almost oblivious to the fact that they were in a planted aquarium. 

Another interesting thing to watch is the way in which they move around the aquarium. Rabbit snails use their large feet to move an inch or so along the aquarium, then they tug their shell up to meet the rest of their body. This gives them an almost lurching form of locomotion that is almost comical to watch. They look like they put so much work into moving just a short distance that you want to cheer them on and tell them: “YOU CAN DO IT!”

Rabbit Snails, while being somewhat rare in the hobby, are proving to show that they are capable or reproduction in captive environments.  While many snails lay masses of eggs, the Tylomenia snails lay a single white egg that quickly dissolves to reveal a small, fully formed copy of the adult. They immediately start roaming and looking for food. While a snail that reproduces in the aquarium can give some hobbyists the uncontrollable and hysterical shakes, Tylomenia reproduce at a relatively easy pace. In a tank of about 30 individuals, you could expect to see 10 or 15 young snails cruising around within a couple of months. That rate is certainly more tolerable than that of those nuisance pond snails!

Rabbit snailIf you are looking to keep these snails and try to get them to reproduce, having a tank with wood and stone for cover and a softer, finer substrate seems to be preferred. A pH of 7.5 to above 8.0 seems to be the most practical and preferred, with a hardness of around 5 dKH being the standard. It has been noted by other hobbyists that these snails do prefer warmer water at temperatures of at least 80 F with a maximum temperature being somewhere in the mid 80’s.

Tylomenia snails are certainly something that catches your eye. Couple their interesting appearances with their excellent grazing and scavenging tendencies, and you have a snail that is definitely worth taking a look at!



  1. avatar

    Oh boy , am I the first one to blog on probably one of the coolest snails in the aquaria hobby? I currently keep two varieties , ” orange ” and ” yellow “. The ” orange ” is basically orange color , no spots . The ” yellow ” is a neon but pale yellow color with no spots. I am not sure what river these come from. I will be getting other varieties after the cold season. I have a some questions regarding these charming snails.
    1. If you were to keep different varieties or locales together , would they hybridize being all the same genus?
    2. Are these CITES 2 or CITES 3 ? Is there a need for a conservation program and documentation for rabbit snails ?
    3. I would love to read more of your experience since the time of writing of this website .
    Thanks in advance !!!

  2. avatar

    oh and one more question , what’s the reason for the various percentage of whites on the snail’s shell ? is it all a fingerprint based on individual , ie our finger prints or a dolphin’s tail.

  3. avatar

    Hi Reggie,
    I can’t seem to find the CITES status on these snails. As far as hybridization, I would expect it is possible depending on the types you mix, but in an aquarium it would be difficult to know who’s mating with who. You’d almost have to try some pairing experiments to see resulting progeny. The whie on the shells is a result of shell erosion. These snails need sufficient pH, hardness, and calcium to keep their shells strong and healthy. Some shells are encased in calcareous growth from their point of origin.

  4. avatar

    Like any other rare or ” hard to get ” animal , def. keep single species and even locales per tank would be my advice and keep notes mentioning locale and husbandry differences, etc. etc. I think it will be along time before these become a ” regular ” seen aquarium snail , if it becomes that common at all??? Having only one or two babies at a time, I almost guarantee that this species of snails will need some conservation effort sooner or later. I’m slowly getting my colonies and locales built up and will do so over this next coming year. This is one of the coolest snails by far to have in your tanks.

  5. avatar

    I now have a small army of the guys. My lfs ordered them in and I was the 1st to get the 2 largest. Sadly they put them in w/other snails(possibly assasin) and they were eaten. if anyone in Oregon is wanting some you can look me up. shimmelwright@hotmail.com..

  6. avatar

    I bought 3 yellow rabbit snails for my tank of Cichlids and now I have 8 🙂 They are the perfect addition to the tank and they obviously love their environment. My wife and I can sit for the longest time and just watch them.

  7. avatar

    I bought two. I bought them for myself as a birthday pressie but they both died after a couple of months.
    Not sure what I did wrong but they were just not that active right from the start.
    I tried feeding them algae waffers and different veg but they were not happy.

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