what do snails eat

What do Snails Eat – Snail Food

What a snail will eat depends mostly on the type of the snail and where they live. There are thousands of different species of snails in the world. In general, you can divide the different types of snails into three categories:

  • Land snails – Also known as terrestrial
  • Freshwater snails
  • Salt water snails  – Also known as sea snails

Most of the snails, whether they are land snails or other, are herbivorous. This means they will only eat plants, vegetables, fruits, etc. Most people know that because they see snails in their garden feeding on leaves and plants. Those snails are usually called garden snails.

Other types of snails can be omnivorous, which means they will eat plant based food but also animal based food. There are also carnivorous snails, which mean they will eat only meat.

a snail eating berries

What Do Snails Eat in the Wild?

Different snail species have different eating habits. A study showed that not only they will eat different food, but some of the snail species are even picky about the food they eat. Some species will “work” harder to find food they like and others will be more “lazy” and just eat whatever is around them.

Most snails will gladly eat different types of green leaves, dead or alive plants, crops fruits and vegetables. Mushrooms, tree bark and stems are other types of food they can eat.

Snails will eat egg shells as part of their diet because the high content of calcium in the egg shells. They will also eat their own baby eggs in an act of cannibalism.

What to Feed a Pet Snail?

If you have a pet snail and you are wondering what to feed them, the best thing you should do is throw in the terrarium different pieces of food and see what it likes. Start with some cucumbers, apples, lettuce, cabbage,

You can choose a mix of any of the fruits, vegetables and other from the recommendations below. Just make sure to stay away from the food they cannot eat and that is dangerous for them.

Being picky on food is not the only “human trait” snails can have. Studies show that snails can even become bored with food if the same kind of food is being given to them over and over. In addition, other research showed that snails prefer to have company when they eat. That research witness snails going for the same pieces of food even though other pieces were available.

two snails eating a plant

The Importance of Calcium for Snails

One of the most important “food ingredients” for snails is calcium. Whether they consume plants surrounding them or you provide them food, it should have calcium. If you are feeding your pet snail and the food doesn’t include calcium, you can add powdered calcium to the soil.

Calcium helps in the growth of the escargot shells and prevents the cracking of their shells. Lack of calcium can lead to the development of a thin shell. For this, you can also provide calcium in a feeding trough or dish.

Snails can get calcium from:

  • Calcium powder
  • Natural Chalk
  • Ground egg shells
  • Shells of dead snails
  • Cuttlebone

What Vegetables Do Snails Eat?

There are many types of vegetables that snail can and will eat. Whether it is in the wild or in a terrarium, the vegetables from the list below can be suitable for most types of snails. Top choices for vegetables are:

  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Artichoke
  • Spinach
  • Peas

What Fruits Do Snails Eat?

Much like vegetables, snails enjoy eating fruits a lot. This can be a positive thing when you are trying to feed your snail pet but it is also part of the reason snails are considered pests.

Some of the fruits snails will eat include:

  • apple
  • apricot
  • cherries
  • ripe pears
  • peach
  • plum
  • Strawberry

Solid Food Item Snails Can Eat

a roman snail going for a strawberry

In addition to eating fruits and vegetables, most snails will enjoy eating other types of food like:

  • Oats
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Lily
  • Carnation
  • Hibiscus

What Is a Snail Favorite Food?

As mentioned before, there are many types of snails which mean they can have different types of favorite food. Generally speaking many types of snails will favor eating things like: cucumbers, apples, lettuce and cabbage.

How Long Can Snails Live Without Food?

The amount of time a snail can live without food depends on the species and on specific factors of that snail. Most snails will survive a few weeks without food. The longest time a snail was observed surviving without eating was 8 months. However, this is very exceptional. In most cases, snails will eat until they are full every day.

How Do Snails Eat?

Snails have a mouth that is built different than a human’s or other animal’s mouth. Our mouth has two sets of teeth, one above the other. Before the food goes down our throat, those two sets of teeth grind the food.

Snails’ mouth is called radula and it has thousands of very small teeth. They don’t use their teeth for chowing. Instead, they scrap the food, causing it to become small food particles they can swallow.

In addition, snails also have jaws which are mainly used to cut large pieces of food into smaller pieces that can be scraped by the radula.

How Much Do Snails Eat?

Snails will eat until they are full. In that sense, when keeping a snail pet, you don’t need to worry about giving them too much food. You can provide them with some food options in their container. Just make sure to replace it before it becomes bad.

Most snails will eat in one day amount of food that is equal to around %10 of their weight. This amount can be increased depending on the condition and if the hibernation season (winter) is approaching.

What Food Snails Cannot Eat?

Snails can be picky eaters but there are a lot of things they can eat. There are even things they shouldn’t but will eat like cardboards. They should also not eat processed food like pasta, rice, bread, etc. In addition, they should also not eat food that contains sugar.

However, there are some things they must not eat as it can hurt them. First one on the list is salt. Salt can seriously harm snails. It will destroy their body moisture and quickly cause them to die.

They should also not eat or attempt to eat onions and citrus food.

Do Snails Drink Water?

Water is essential for every living organism. It keeps them hydrated to grow stronger and retain energy. You do not provide snails with water to drink. They can get enough water from the food they eat. But more important, they get it from their environment. That is why snail’s habitat should be as humid as possible. Snail farmer must keep his snail in a very humid environment with 75% – 95% humidity.

If you decide to give your pet snail water, you can serve clean drinking water in a shallow container to limit the risk of their drowning. If you have a good budget, you can install a watering system where you have kept your snails. These systems have different functions like sprinkling water to keep the moisture at a suitable level.

What to Feed in a Snail Farm?

Feeding snails on a snail farm is in many aspects different than feeding a pet snail or seeing what a snail will eat in the wild. The main purpose of a snail farm is making the snails grow as fast as possible. For that, you need to supply them with as much favorite food as possible. In addition, you need to supply them with the best growing environment as possible. Read more about it in the snail farming guide.

When Snails Grow and Eat?

The snails’ eating period falls between April and October, which is the time of their growth. Besides that, their feeding greatly depends on the weather. This is why snails can consume a lot on some days, but nothing on other days. However, if you want to improve their feeding, try to moisten the soil, making it easier for snails to move around.

Although snails love to eat, they become inactive when the atmosphere is extremely hot and dry. Because of this, they become dormant till the weather becomes moist and cool. When the time comes, they become active and move on the walls, posts, or tree trunks.

Snails hibernate in the winter. This is the primary reason why they consume too much in other months of the year. They need to create a fat reserve that can help them survive in the hibernation period.

Moreover, snails completely stop eating food when they are mating, mostly in the middle of June. But this is nothing to worry about. When they lay eggs, they will start munching on food again.

a snail on a mushroom

Related article: How do snails reproduce?

When Are the Snails the Most Active?

You might not have seen snails extremely active in the daytime. This is because these creatures love dark and damp places. In addition, you can notice them most active after the few hours of the sunset, when the temperature is low and dew appears. That said, snails look for shelter under plants during the daytime.

You also need to understand that not every snail has the same pace. Some grow faster, while others grow in years. Even if you kept all the snails under the same environment and condition, you would notice that some would take double time to become mature.

Factors to Consider for the Growth of Snail

Several factors decide the growth of the snails. You need to consider the following things if you want to make your snail healthy and mature.

  • Quality of food
  • Stress
  • Temperature
  • Moisture
  • Population density

Plus, you always need to keep them away from too much touch, noise, vibration light, unhygienic conditions, and irregular feedings.

What Do Slugs Eat?

Slugs eating habits are very similar to snails’. Like snails, slugs diet also depended on their species. There are the herbivorous that will eat only plant based food. The carnivorous that will eat meat. The omnivorous that is able to survive by eating both plant based food and animal matter. In addition there is the detritivorous type. Those can feed on decomposing plant and leaves, dead and rotting animal parts as well as faeces (ugh). Though somewhat disgusting, they play a big role in the world’s eco-system.

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