Feeding Nature
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What Do Snails Eat?

The term ‘snail’ is used very loosely.  This term is often used to describe a variety of species such as sea snails, coiled shell snails, and many more.  This name is most often used to land snails, a member of the gastropod mollusks family. 

These snails are also referred to as garden snails and are easily identified by their coiled shells, mushy bodies, and tentacle eyes.

 Snails are sometimes labeled as pests in gardens but they are also kept as pets.  Some species of snails are used in heliculture and farmed for their meat while others are farmed to produce cosmetic products.  Some species are safe for human consumption while others can be quite deadly.  There are many different snail species and it is important to identify the specie you have properly so you can provide it with the correct care.  

 What Do Snails Eat?

Most snail species are herbivores and only consume plant matter.  There are a few omnivore land snail species that will consume both plant and meat matter.  Snails that are kept as pets or used in heliculture are herbivores.  Here is a quick look at the best foods to offer your pet snails or to feed snails if you are in the snail farming business.

 Plants

Snails are often considered as pests in gardens because they can cause quite a lot of damage to plants. 

They will consume a great variety of garden plants such as grasses, dandelion greens, basil, lemon verbena, dill, a variety of flowering plants, and many others. They especially prefer fresh young leaves that are still soft and moist.

 Fruits and vegetables

Snails love to eat fruits, vegetables, and vegetable plants.  They will consume the greens and fruits or veggies of plants like green salad, all types of cabbage, strawberries, pepper plants, zucchini, pumpkin, cucumbers, beans, mustard, celery, buckwheat, and cress.

 They are less enthusiastic about eating lentils, radishes, chili plants, spinach plants, carrots, asparagus, and peas but will also consume these foods.

 Fungi

Snails will also eat a variety of fungi organisms or microorganisms.  These can include yeasts, molds, mushrooms, and many other microorganisms that might be invisible to the naked eye.  Fungi usually tend to grow in areas that are always moist or damp. 

 Algae

Algae are also a good food source for snails.  They will consume a wide range of algae organisms that may grow on water, damp soil, or rocky areas in humid climates or locations.  These forms of growth contain lots of nutrients like iron, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, and others that help keep snails healthy and strong.

 Seeds and grains

Snails can also eat certain seeds such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.  If you are offering seeds then be sure to soak these foods for a while before offering them to your snails.  

 Snails are also happy to consume certain cooked grains like rice and oats.  It is, however, important to cook these foods until they are soft and to avoid adding spices and especially salt to these cooked grains. 

 Calcium

Snails need to consume a lot of calcium to keep their shells healthy and strong.  Many pet owners choose to offer calcium foods that their snails can nibble on.  You can add foods like shells from dead snail, calcium powder, powdered oyster shells, chalk, natural limestone, bone meal or wood ash to your snail’s tank. 

It is best to always have a source of calcium in your snail’s tank so they can consume calcium sources whenever they need to.  

 Water

Snails need lots of water to stay healthy.  They can easily become dehydrated and will wilt and die if they are kept in dry enclosures with no water source.  You should ensure that your snail is always supplied with lots of fresh water for drinking. 

 Snail Diet Variations

Some land snail species are omnivores.  These may choose to consume meat.  They will feed off dead animals or might choose to eat meat products like dog food as these contain lots of healthy protein.  Snails can also consume cooked eggs, fish flakes, and other protein sources.   

 How to Feed Snails

Snails are not very hard to feed at all.  They are simple creatures that don’t need much encouragement to feed.  It is best to offer your snails a variety of food types so your snails will get all the vitamins and minerals they need.

 Offer a balanced meal

For good balance try to offer a variety that includes fruits, veggies, seeds, and cooked grains. 

Vegetables can be cooked to make it easier for your snails to consume, especially if you choose to offer hard vegetable types such as carrots.

You can also choose to cut your snail foods into smaller pieces to make it easier for your pets to chew and eat these foods.  

 Avoid toxic processed foods

Avoid offering your snails’ processed foods such as bread, cookies, or other types of commercial foods.  These foods can contain lots of ingredients that are not healthy for your snails at all.

 Remember to offer lots of fresh water

It is also important to offer your snail fresh water.  To do this, add a shallow dish of fresh spring water to your snail tank. 

Your snail’s environment should also be humid enough and the shallow dish gives your snail a chance to bathe to absorb more water.    Fresh water should be offered every 1 – 2 days.  

 If you do not have access to bottled or spring water then you can cook tap water and allow it to cool down before offering it to your snails.  Alternatively, you can let the water sit in the sun for a few hours before offering it to snails.  This is to reduce the number of chemicals such as chlorine in tap water.  

 How Much Do Snails Eat

The amount of food a snail eats depends on its size.  Larger snails can consume much more food than smaller ones.  It can be challenging to determine just how much food your snail will need daily.  

 You can start by offering a 0.25 cup of food each day which includes grain, seeds, fruits, or veggies. 

If your snail consumes all foods offered within 24 hours, you can offer more daily.  If a lot of food is left over after a day, you can reduce the amount of food you offer by a little bit.  

 All foods leftover after 24 hours should be removed from your snail tanks because these foods are likely spoiled and can affect the health of your snail negatively.

 Some land snails do enter a period of lethargy or hibernation.  In this time, their metabolic rate decreases, the snail retracts into its shell and it won’t feed until the hibernation period is over.  

 What Do Baby Snails Eat

Snail eggs can take up to four weeks to hatch.  Snail babies are called larvae and their shells are still very soft.  The snail larvae will consume the eggshell to gain calcium which strengthens their shells.  Some snail larvae may even consume other eggs that haven’t hatched just yet.  

 Once the snail larvae leave its nest, it will feed off microscopic algae and bacteria.  As their shells harden and they grow, they will quickly start consuming the same foods as adult snails but in much smaller quantities. 

 What Do Wild Snails Eat

In the wild, snails can only consume foods available in their natural habitat.  They often target gardens and crops since these areas offer plenty of edible foods.  Wild snails can eat a great variety of plants, vegetables, fruits, flowering plants, algae, fungi, and other foods they come by in the wild.   

 If a snail happens upon a carcass, they may even choose to consume meat.   Meat is a good source of protein for snails although they are not all too likely to scavenge for meat foods.  

 What Do Snails Need To Survive?

There are quite a few things a snail needs to survive.  Here is a quick look at the top essentials your snails require to survive;

 Fresh clean water

Snail bodies are quite moist and they rely on this moisture and the phlegm they produce to move around with ease.  If they become too dehydrated they can die.  It is important to offer your snail lots of fresh clean water.  The best way to offer water is in a flat dish because snails enjoy bathing.  They also absorb lots of water through bathing.

 A humid environment

If their habitat is too dry, they can lose a lot of moisture as they move about.  It is important to create a humid environment for your snail.  You can do this by spraying your snails with spring water every 1 – 2 days.

 Moist healthy foods

Snails need their fill of healthy foods so they can stay nourished.  A balanced diet that contains greens, cooked grains, fruits, and veggies is ideal for keeping your snails healthy and happy.  A balanced diet is especially important if you are breeding or farming snails.

 Calcium sources

Snails need to consume lots of calcium to keep their shells thick and strong. Your snail won’t die right away if there is no calcium in its tank but over some time, you will start to see its health decline.  It is best to constantly have a source of calcium in a snail’s tank so they can continuously get sufficient calcium intake.  

 A clean habitat

It is important to clean your snail tanks regularly.  Dirty tanks can contain bacteria and microscopic organisms that can cause diseases in your pet snail.  Offering spoiled foods can also affect your snail’s health negatively.  It is important to also clear out spoiled foods every 24 hours to ensure that your pet snail stays as healthy as possible.  

 What Is Snails Favorite Food?

Snails do have a variety of favorite foods. Artichoke is one of their favorite green foods.  They also love to eat watermelon and this is a very healthy treat to offer a snail since watermelon hydrates well.  Snails also love to eat cucumbers and lettuce is also a tasty treat for them.  They also enjoy eating tomatoes.  

 Some snail species may show a greater preference towards certain foods than others.  But all in all, most land snails enjoy consuming particularly moist foods.

 Are snails dangerous?

Edible snail species pose very little threat to people.  The only time these snails pose a risk is if they are contaminated or diseased or if these snails are not properly processed during cooking.  

 Some snail species can, however, be venomous and are not suitable for consumption.  Consuming or even touching some snail species can be very dangerous or even fatal.

 It is also very important to only consume snail meat that has been farmed under ideal conditions. 

Diseased snail meats can be quite dangerous for consumption and can cause parasitic infestations which can be fatal to humans.  

 Can humans eat snails?

Snails are a very popular cuisine in many countries all over the world.  But only certain species are safe for human consumption.  Snails also need to be properly prepared before you can eat them.  They are prepared by boiling the snails in a pot of heavily salted water for a minimum of 3 minutes.  The snails are then rinsed in cool water before they are prepared and offered along with sauces or spices.  

 It is important not to try to eat just any type of snail.  Not all species are edible and some can be poisonous. Some are farmed for the manufacturing of cosmetic or healing products and not for consumption. 

 Conclusion

Snails are fairly easy to keep as pets and to farm.  They are simple to feed and they can consume a huge variety of food types.  As long as you offer your pet snail a combination of