What Do Snails Eat?

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.

Key Takeaways

  • Most garden snails will eat leaves, vegetables and fruits.
  • They need to consume a lot of calcium which is good for their shell’s development.
  • Salt and citrus food items are bad for them.
  • They can drink water but they can also absorb water from their food.
  • They can survive weeks or even months without food.
  • Their mouth has thousands of tiny teeth which they use to scrap the food into their body.

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.

a snail eating berries

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 means they will eat only meat.

What Do Snails Eat?

Different snail species have different eating habits. 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.

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.

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

Water snails like the Mexican turbo snail, will eat algae from reefs and rocks.

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,

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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 witnessed snails going for the same pieces of food even though other pieces were available.

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 shell and prevents the cracking. 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 snails 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.

a roman snail going for a strawberry

Some of the fruits snails will eat include:

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

Solid Food Item Snails Can Eat

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
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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 differently than a human’s or other animal’s mouth due to their unique anatomy. 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 chewing. Snails do not bite their food as well (also no need to worry about snail bite). 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 an 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.

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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 importantly, they get it from their environment. That is why the 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.

When Snails 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.

Related article: How do snails reproduce?