There are 4 species of Apple Snails found in Florida of which the only native species is the Florida Apple Snail. The other three species are the Titan Apple Snail, Spike Topped Apple Snail and Island Apple Snail. The species that I photographed and posted above is I believe the Spiked Topped Apple Snail. I saw many of these snails during my walk through the Platts Creek Mitigation Project in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The 100 acre mitigation project has many fresh water marshes and ponds throughout where these snails live and reproduce and are used as the main food source for Snail Kites. Snail Kites are also an interesting species of bird in Florida because they are only found near the Everglades in South Florida and feed exclusively on Apple Snails. They are raptors with sharp bills which are suited to carve out the snails from their shells.
Most of the Apple Snails were brought to the United States for the pet trade. They are popular with aquarium owners because they add an interesting life form to the fish tanks and they also help clean the glass by eating away the dead and dying vegetation in the water. The Island Apple Snail and native Florida Apple Snail perform important economic and environmental functions for the aquatic ecosystems and wetlands in Florida. They eat and feed on the invasive weeds and vegetation which cover the surfaces of rivers and swamps which creates oxygen depletion and dead zones in wetlands. To learn more about Apple Snails I found the Univ. of Florida Featured Creatures website to be helpful. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website provides excellent pictures and information about the Snail Kite.