The liguus snail, which probably should be called a tree snail, is notable for its large size and colored shells often with complex patterns. They seem to prefer trees with smooth bark, such as the false tamarind.
Unfortunately, because of their visual appeal, these shells were a favorite of collectors who were willing to burn down hammocks in order to make sure they had the last remaining specimens. Collectors are believed to have exterminated an unknown number of varieties.
Today, only 59 varieties appear to remain. The shell color patterns range from bright white to black with whorls of pink or green or chestnut or yellow. A species of special concern, Liguus snails are illegal to collect. And never move them for better photos. That could kill them. Especially in the winter dry season when they go into a kind of hibernation, fastening to a branch and sealing their shells with mucus to keep from drying out.
This creature is a “please look, don’t touch.” Or you could kill it.
Best places to see the snails are the Gumbo Limbo Trail and the Big Cypress National Preserve. Follow the Big Cypress itinerary to where the snails are located.