What do garden snails eat?
If you think back to watching Spongebob, you might remember Gary eating “Snail-Po” out of his signature food bowl. You might even remember his owner trying some for himself to see how it tastes.
But seeing as “Snail-Po” doesn’t exist in the real world, what are you supposed to feed your pet snail? Read on for everything you need to know about food for land snails. Our guide on what garden snails eat will help you come up with the perfect diet for your pet.
Table of Contents
What Do Garden Snails Eat In the Wild & as Pets?
Wild slugs aren’t picky eaters, and you’ll often find them in your garden beds. Some snail species are omnivorous, detritivorous, and even carnivorous. That’s right, some are predators that feed on other species or dead animal matter. By and large, however, snails are herbivores. They’ll eat plants, tree bark, vegetables — you name it.
Pet snails are similar in that they’ll eat pretty much whatever plant material they come across. Be sure to try out the different foods we suggest throughout this article to find what they like. Don’t worry — if they don’t like something, they won’t eat it. You can always replace untouched food with something else they’ll enjoy eating.
What Do Snails Eat in Captivity?
It’s easy to find food that your garden snail will eat. Slugs enjoy many fruits, vegetables, grass, plants, and whatever else you can find in your refrigerator or garden.
Whatever you do, make sure you thoroughly wash the food before putting it in their tank. A good rinse with clean water will remove potentially harmful pesticides.
It’s also essential to remove rotten scraps and add more food every couple of days. Keeping fresh fruit and vegetables in the tank will prevent mold growth.
Feeding in Snail Homes
When feeding your snail pet, you can ensure they eat by creating a comfortable environment. Keep the following tips in mind when building the perfect snail terrarium:
• Keep them out of direct sunlight
• Add sticks, leaves, bark, and/or plants to mimic their natural habitat
• Add a few inches of chemical-free soil and keep moist (more on that later)
• Create hiding spots via structures like tiny hollowed-out logs
• Ensure enough air gets into their tank
What Is a Snail’s Favorite Food?
You can find snails enjoying plants, fruits, and other foods. They all have different taste buds, so it can take a few weeks to get a feel for their favorites.
Here are some recommendations that will lead to happy snails:
Lettuce is a delicious, crunchy snack for your terrestrial snail. It also provides them with plenty of hydration.
Beer might seem like an odd choice, but snails love the yeast it provides. Small drops every once in a while are tasty. However, too much can be lethal, so it’s important to stick to just a few droplets.
When cleaning out your refrigerator, remember that your pet will probably like fruit such as:
There’s much debate over whether citrus is bad for these pets. To be on the safe side, offer foods like oranges sparingly.
Unlike your kids, these tiny animals are fond of vegetables. You shouldn’t have a problem getting them to eat:
If you feed them “hard” vegetables like potatoes and carrots, consider softening them via boiling. Just make sure to let the food cool down completely before putting it in the tank.
Seeds are another big hit. Popular options include sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds. It’s best to crush, grind, or soak them before serving.
Offering tortoise or dog food is also common practice. You should soak it before placing it in the terrarium.
Carnivorous snails eat raw meat like steak mince and chicken. Refrain from giving them any meat with seasoning on it. They’ll also eat raw eggs, cooked eggs, and eggshells.
Foods to Protect Snail Shells
Snails only get one shell. To keep their exterior in good shape, they must have access to plenty of calcium.
Calcium is available in leafy green plants like broccoli, kale, and Brussel sprouts. However, you might also want to get calcium supplements at a pet store.
Also, don’t be afraid to add a cuttlefish bone or eggshell to their tank. The snail’s mouth has radula scrapes to file away at these calcium-rich foods.
While a lack of calcium can prevent snails from growing and repairing their shell, it’s important to not give them too much of this mineral. Excessive calcium can lead to harmful internal stones. The recommended amount of calcium for snails is around 20% of their diet.
Foods to Avoid
Land snails aren’t picky, but that doesn’t mean you should feed them anything and everything.
Foods that can harm snails include:
• Excessively salty foods
• Anything contaminated by pesticides or harmful chemicals
Do Garden Snails Drink Water?
Now that you’re familiar with the different eating habits of land snails, you might be wondering if these snails drink water. Snails are curious creatures in that they don’t necessarily need a water dish. They get much of the hydration they need from the foods you give them.
Snails also get moisture from the soil in their tank. You should use a spray bottle twice a day to keep the environment damp. While a water bowl isn’t necessary, these snails will appreciate it. They’ll not only drink from it but also use it to take baths.
If you choose to add a bowl, make sure it’s shallow to prevent your snails from drowning. It should also be somewhat heavy as snails may tip it over in the soil.
What to Feed Baby Snails
If your adult snails happen to lay eggs, you might be wondering what your new babies will eat.
Luckily, it’s simple — babies will eat pretty much what adults eat. Expose these snails to lots of food initially so they won’t be as picky later in life. Be careful about giving these snails watery foods (like tomato insides) that these small animals can drown in.
You should also be particularly mindful of the size of the tank’s water bowl (if you choose to include one).
And, of course, they will need lots of calcium to harden their new shells.
Fun Fact: Snails are born with their shells. When they break out of their egg, the first thing they do is eat the egg’s casing. It’s rich in calcium to support the brand new shell.
Do Carnivorous Snails Eat Other Snails?
Seeing as some species are carnivorous, your pet snail might try eating its tank mates. This shouldn’t happen as long as you keep different species in separate tanks.
What Do Freshwater Snails Eat?
You know what to feed land snails, but what do freshwater slugs eat? These guys don’t require any special food. They will feed off of the algae and excess debris in the aquarium. You’ll appreciate both their low maintenance and ability to keep things clean!
If you need to supplement their diet, algae discs from your local pet store should do the trick.
What Do Sea Snails Eat?
Sea snails are similar to freshwater snails in that they eat algae on the tank. Additionally, they’re notorious bottom feeders as they’ll scavenge for organic waste, decaying plants, and uneaten fish food. Note that the mouth of a saltwater slug can also accommodate tiny pieces of shrimp, scallop, and fish. You can add these meaty foods to the tank to serve up a nice treat.
What Do Garden Snails Eat? The Bottom Line
Your snail is like a member of the family, and they deserve to eat well! So, what do garden snails eat? They can consume various plants and fruits and veggies — just make sure they get lots of calcium.
Consider this guide as the ultimate snail cookbook. Feel free to bookmark it and refer back to ensure your pet gets the best cuisine.