The operculum (from Latin operculum ‘cover, covering’; pl. opercula or operculums) is a corneous or calcareous anatomical structure like a trapdoor that exists in many (but not all) groups of sea snails and freshwater snails, and also in a few groups of land snails; the structure is found in some marine and freshwater gastropods, and in a minority of terrestrial gastropods, including the families Helicinidae, Cyclophoridae, Aciculidae, Maizaniidae, Pomatiidae, etc.
The operculum is attached to the upper surface of the foot and in its most complete state, it serves as a sort of “trapdoor” to close the aperture of the shell when the soft parts of the animal are retracted. The shape of the operculum varies greatly from one family of gastropods to another. It is fairly often circular, or more or less oval in shape. In species where the operculum fits snugly, its outline corresponds exactly to the shape of the aperture of the shell and it serves to seal the entrance of the shell.