What do Snails Eat: 5 Interesting Things to Know

Even if you know nothing about snails, it’s no doubt that they are fascinating little creatures to look at.

The most well-known distinct feature of all snails is that they carry their homes with them in the form of a shell. These shelled gastropods can consume various items, but it often depends on diverse factors.

But what do snails eat? Read on to find out!

What do Snails Eat?

what do snails eat

Eating habits in snails differ based on their species. There are thousands of different snail species, but they can be categorized into the following ones, and what snails eat is often determined based on their habitats as well.

1. Freshwater Snails

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By: realworkhard/Pixabay

As you can guess by the name, freshwater snails (also known as freshwater aquarium snails) are the type of snails you can find in and around freshwater bodies such as streams, lakes, rivers, springs, pools, and many other freshwater habitats.

What do snails eat in the freshwater bodies?

Freshwater snails are omnivores most of the time, and the other times they’re herbivores. Freshwater snails eat water debris, fish, animal matter, organic matter, decaying plants, and algae.

This isn’t true for all of the snails found in freshwater, as many different species are found amongst them. Some of their other common diet products include water debris and little dead animals.

2. Sea Snails

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By: grobi223/Pixabay

These snails are found in the giant deepwater bodies of saltwater such as oceans and seas. Sea snails are found in a large number in nature as it’s easy to find food in such a vast habitat. They’re also often called marine snails.

What do snails eat when they’re found in this habitat?

Sea snails eat plants most of the time, mainly algae, and they also consume fungi.

Different eating habits are observed in many species of sea snails here, and some of their other common foods are barnacles, seaweed, dead plants, animal waste, other slugs, dead fish, and sometimes they eat snails.

3. Land Snails

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By: Capri23auto/Pixabay

Terrestrial snails, also known as land snails, are the different types you can find in various natural habitats such as forests, fields, tropical islands, woodlands, flower gardens, and wetlands. They’re often found in many urban settings as well.

What do snails eat on land? Some of the most popular land snails are garden snails. These terrestrial snails prefer to settle on different plants and feed on them as they move about.

Most terrestrial snails are found in wild, natural settings such as forests and gardens. You can find an everyday garden snail in little fields and gardens, and they’re primarily herbivores.

A garden snail will feed on vegetables, healthy plants, and fruits they can find in your garden. Snails like these are often taken as pets by humans.

So, what do snails eat on land?

Most land snails eat leaves, fungi, stems, worms, flowers, fruits, grass, insects, moist leaf litter, and many other different things they can find around their habitat.

Snail’s mouth has numerous tiny teeth in the form of a band called ‘radula,’ which helps them easily consume fresh plants, tree bark, and plant crops. These small teeth are shaped like a tongue and help them break their food before eating it.

4. Carnivorous Snails

The Deadly Cone Snail | World's Weirdest

The snails we discussed before were usually herbivorous snails, which devour things like plants and algae. Other snails as well generally consume little dead animals and fish food.

What do snails eat when they’re predatory? Carnivorous snails such as Powelliphanta are the types of snails found on land and maintain a diet that makes them feed on invertebrates1.

They aren’t found in many parts of the world, mainly just in New Zealand. There are many other different carnivorous snails found in the world, and they feed on a variety of different items.

What do snails eat when they’re carnivorous?

They eat other slugs, snails, and earthworms mainly.

Other carnivorous types of snails include the venomous cone snails that eat meat, dead snails, and other animals, particularly small animals such as other gastropods, fish, and worms. Venomous cone snails are a type of predatory sea snail.

5. Baby Snails

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By: ClaudiaWollesen/Pixabay

So far, we’ve explored how different types of adult snails feed. It differs on whether it’s a garden snail or another common terrestrial snail, and we’ve discovered that one of the essential food items for many snails is any plant.

What do snails eat when they’re young? Now, baby gastropods 2also follow the same diet as adult snails.

They go for the same snail food that adult snails do in their habitats. In the start, though, as their shells are developing, their food begins with consuming microscopic algae or lettuce.

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By: silviarita/Pixabay

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do snails eat and drink?

Snails acquire quite a bit of water through the food they consume and just a little through their skin. They need to eat and drink frequently to sustain their blood fluid.

2. Is snail harmful to humans?

No, most varieties of snails are not harmful to humans.

3. Do snails have teeth?

The teeth of a snail are placed in lines on its tongue. Garden snails have approximately 14,000 teeth, however, other species might have over 20,000 teeth. Fascinating, right?

So, What do Snails Generally Eat?

What snails eat differs a lot based on the different species around the world. There are many other species of gastropods in the world that follow different types of food to survive.

Land snails eat pumpkin seeds, flowers, and fruits, while the other snails in the water bodies settle for fish food, algae, dead plants, and seaweed. Their tiny teeth help break these items for them, and these tiny teeth are popularly known as radula3.

Their eating habits have been noted to be similar to that of slugs. Like them, slugs eat plant-related foods, and the type of food they consume differs based on their species.

The gastropods in the saltwater bodies are some of the most fascinating types of snails you can find. Amongst these marine gastropods, some of the fascinating species you can see are Florida Fighting Conch, Marsh Periwinkle, and Toothed Topshell.

You can click here to read another fascinating article related to freshwater, and marine life.

All types of Gastropoda have a diet that revolves around organic matter, various kinds of leaves, water waste, fish food, and algae, and since it’s not hard to take care of some of the terrestrial and freshwater ones, you can often find snails as pets in many households.

  1. Hodkovicova, N., et al. “Effects of plastic particles on aquatic invertebrates and fish–a review.” Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology 96 (2022): 104013. ↩︎
  2. Vermeij, Geerat J., and Victoria M. Watson-Zink. “Terrestrialization in gastropods: lineages, ecological constraints and comparisons with other animals.” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 136.3 (2022): 393-404. ↩︎
  3. Asakawa, Yoshinori, Fumihiro Nagashima, and Agnieszka Ludwiczuk. “Distribution of bibenzyls, prenyl bibenzyls, bis-bibenzyls, and terpenoids in the liverwort genus Radula.” Journal of natural products 83.3 (2020): 756-769. ↩︎

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