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Home > General > What Do Snails Eat in the Wild and as Pets? Diet & Health Facts

What Do Snails Eat in the Wild and as Pets? Diet & Health Facts

close up snail eating grass

Snails make good pets. Yes, you read that right. Snails are fun pets to keep. They’re quiet, they don’t require much work, their habitat is easy to set up, and they’re interesting creatures to watch.

Another great thing about keeping snails as pets is that they’re easy to feed. A snail’s diet depends on species, but most snails are herbivores which means they eat only plant matter like leaves, vegetables, fruit, etc.

If you’re wondering what snails eat, we’ve got the answer for you, plus lots of interesting information about snails, so sit back, relax, and continue reading!


Most Snails are Herbivores

What a snail eats depends largely on species and location. Even though there are thousands of different snail species in the world, you can categorize them into three main types: land snails, freshwater snails, and saltwater snails. Whether they live on land or in the water, most snails are herbivores which means they eat only plant matter like leaves, vegetables, fruit, etc.

Some types of snails are omnivorous which means they eat plant-based food and animal-based food. There are also carnivorous snails that eat only meat. For this article, we’ll focus on land snails as they’re the most common type kept as pets.

snail eating a leaf
Image Credit: Mhy, Pixabay


What They Eat in the Wild

Some snails will eat basically anything that’s in their immediate area while others will work harder to find foods they love to eat. Most snails won’t have a problem eating a variety of green leaves, living or dead plants, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, tree bark, and stems. Snails will even feed on eggshells they find in the wild to benefit from the high calcium content these shells provide.

A Snail’s Place in the Ecosystem is Important

Snails are gastropods belonging to the phylum Mollusca. While there are many types of snails that come in several different shapes, colors, and sizes, they all share the common feature of having a shell and a foot they use to move around with.

Snails eat using a radula which is a tongue-like organ. The radula has lots of tiny microscopic teeth which snails use for scraping up plant material and eating prey. While they eat very low on the food chain, snails are rich in calcium. This calcium that’s found in the snail’s shell is passed up on the food chain to help form shells and embryos of animals that eat snails including mice, shrews, squirrels, toads, turtles, and birds.

snail up close
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

What to Feed a Pet Snail

If you’ve got a new pet snail set up in a terrarium or another similar habitat, you have to provide your little friend with food and water. The easiest way to decide what to feed a snail is to simply place some different pieces of food in its habitat to see what it likes. Start with lettuce, cabbage, apples, and cucumbers.

It’s a good idea to place the food in a small bowl in the enclosure as it will make it easier for you to keep the habitat clean. In addition to lettuce, cabbage, apples, and cucumbers, some other good foods to provide a pet snail include:

  • Spinach
  • Artichoke
  • Peas
  • Kale
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Strawberries

An interesting thing about snails is that they can become bored with food if they’re not given a variety of things to eat. This means that you should not limit your snail’s diet to one or two food items. Variety is the key to keeping your snail friend happy.

Snails need calcium in their diets to keep their snells healthy. If a snail doesn’t get enough calcium, its shell can thin out and crack. You can be sure your snail is eating enough calcium by providing it with some ground egg shells, natural chalk, cuttlebone, or calcium powder you can find at most pet stores.

snail in the wild
Image Credit: azeret33, Pixabay

Snails Eat Until They’re Full

If you’re wondering how much to feed a pet snail, you should know that a snail will eat until it’s full. You don’t have to worry about giving a pet snail too much food, so simply provide your pet with some food options in its food dish and replace any food that rots. In a typical day, a snail will eat food that’s equal to about 10 percent of its weight, which isn’t much food at all when you think about it.

What Not to Feed a Snail

Snails should be fed natural foods and nothing processed like rice, bread, or pasta. They also should not eat foods containing sugar like candy or cookies. Salt is something snails should never be fed as it can destroy their body moisture and cause them to die. Snails should never be fed onions or citrusy food, either, as these foods are high in acid.

Snails Need Water Like All Living Organisms

Like other living organisms, snails cannot live without water. While it’s fine to provide your pet snail with a small dish with some shallow water, your snail will get most of the water it needs from the food it eats and from the environment it lives in. Just be sure to provide your snail with fresh food and an environment that is somewhat humid and not too dry.


Final Thoughts

Pet snails don’t ask for much. Snails are easy and cheap to keep and they eat a varied diet. You don’t have to buy special snail food as you can find most snail food right in your backyard, garden, or refrigerator.

Snails can be wonderful pets for children. They’re also a good pet for people living in small apartments as they don’t need much room at all to thrive. Another great thing is that you don’t have to spend money at a pet store to get a snail because you can easily find snails in nature.

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Featured Image Credit: kie-ker, Pixabay

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