Snail Poop – Do You Really Want To Know?

It’s not a subject that many people want to think about but dealing with snail poop (or at least learning about it) is a vital part of snail ownership. Much in the same way that you need to deal with dog and cat waste, snails are an animal that excretes waste material, which must be dealt with.

Thankfully, you won’t need to do a lot to effectively deal with it.

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Do Snails Poop?

Yes, snails do poop. Although it might not be obvious how they poop, they do have an anus that releases waste material. It just looks a little different to the waste removal system of other animals.

And no, snails do not poop through the mouth despite what you may have read on the internet. 

When a snail poops, it does so inside the shell. The shell has a hole for breathing, but it also acts as an exit for waste inside the shell.

What is Snail Poop Called?

Some people call it poop. Others call it excrement. Pest animal waste is known as scat – raccoon scat, for example.

What do you like to call it? (Or maybe I shouldn’t ask that?!)

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What Does Snail Poop Look Like?

Snail excrement looks similar to the excrement of other animals – long, thin, and poop-shaped. Some people describe it as like cut-up pieces of rope. It can be a range of colors, depending on what the gastropod eats, where it lives, and more. Most of the time, it will be various shades of brown, green, or grey.

When excrement is released in water, it stays moist and starts to break down. Land snail waste, on the other hand, dries out and curls up, turning from a long and thin, rope-like shape into a horseshoe or C-shape.

Do You Have to Clean Snail Poop in a Tank?

If you see it and you don’t like the look of it, there’s nothing to stop you from picking up or clearing away the waste from your pet snails in your home aquarium or tank. It will eventually breakdown into the water, of course, but this can change the parameters of the water.

Most people advise removing any snail poop you see or performing weekly/fortnightly tank siphon/vacuums.

How to Clean Up Snail Poop

Snails tend to poop on the glass of your tank, or on objects, such as ornaments. You can easily wipe this away with a damp cloth or scrap it away with an algae scraper.

Can a Snail Eat Poop?

Actually, yes. If you have a snail in your tank’s “clean-up crew”, you have a snail that eats poop. Nassarius snails, for example, will eat all sorts of decomposing and decaying matter, which fish poop (detritus) will fall into the category of.

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Most snails won’t go out of their way to eat poop, of course. There is a long list of things they would rather eat first.

Is Snail Poop Dangerous?

Experts do not think snails carry any bacteria or disease-causing pathogens that can affect humans.  There are no reported toxic compounds found in it, although I certainly wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to handle it. You should wash your hands after cleaning it away, too.

Is Snail Poop Good for Plants?

Snail poop is good for plants, but the snails themselves are not. This poses quite the “Catch 22” situation.

Snail waste contains potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen – all of which can be found in most commercially sold garden fertilizers. However, in order to excrete those three fertilizing materials, they must first eat… and they often eat the plants you’d rather they didn’t!

So, although snails poop a lot, and the waste contains high amounts of fertilizing ingredients, you may find that you don’t have many plants left to fertilize.

Why Does My Snail Poop So Much?

All snails poop a lot. They eat, then they poop. Despite being slow animals, their metabolism is believed to be quite high. You must also remember that they are relatively small animals that eat a lot; they need to excrete waste more because of this.