A group of tiny, rare snails have finally found a new home in Edinburgh’s Pentlands in what has been hailed as a “vital step” to save the species.
Populations of the vulnerable pond mud snails in the UK have almost halved over the past 25 years due to habitat loss.
The tiny molluscs, measuring a little over a centimetre in length, are classed as a vulnerable species.
The snails, which are native to Europe, were previously found in only seven locations within the central belt of Scotland - a fraction of their former range.
But now 87 have been introduced to a specially created habitat near the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh, having been bred at Edinburgh Zoo key.
Their introduction to the area is part of the Marvellous Mud Snails project being run by Buglife Scotland.
The project is working to ensure this species doesn’t disappear from Scotland.
Ben Harrower, the charity’s conservation programme manager, said: “It is very encouraging that we now have this new Pond mud snail site, which means there are currently eight populations in Scotland.
“We were able to release 87 snails in total.
“This is the first time these snails have been bred in a zoo environment and released into the wild in Scotland.
“We are working in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Buglife Scotland and are delighted to have taken this vital step towards saving this little known but fascinating snail.
“Our aim is to continue releasing these snails into suitable sites across Scotland through the Heritage Lottery Funded Marvellous Mud Snails project and to work with partners to create a stable and healthy population throughout central Scotland.”
Alasdair Lemon, conservation officer of Buglife Scotland, said: “It is fantastic to see our partners at RZSS releasing a population of Pond mud snails into a site just outside Edinburgh and helping ensure this species longevity in Scotland.”
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