As slow as they are, snails are pretty fascinating. Did you know they make an excellent choice of pet? Some snails grow at a “snail’s pace,” while others grow fast. The good news is that snails can eat a wide selection of foods. So, what do snails eat?
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Snails Habits And Biology
A snail is a gastropod that can retreat into its shell for protection. There exist many different species of snails. There are thousands of snail species. It’s easier to identify snails based on their habitat. Based on their habitat, the three types of snails are terrestrial (land snails), freshwater snails, and sea snails.
Snails are a delicacy and are eaten all around the world. Humans cook snails differently, depending on their location. Did you know that snails mucus can be used in skincare products? You never know; your favorite skincare brand may be using mucus in their products.
Calcium is essential to all snails. Snails can grow strong shells that are hard to crack due to calcium. Snails can develop a thin shell without calcium.
Snails are mostly omnivorous, others are herbivorous, and some are carnivorous. Snails can also be detritivorous (eat decaying waste from both plants and animals).
Despite the previously mentioned classification of snails based on their feeding habits, snails can also turn on their own. How sad. They also tend to practice cannibalism by eating their baby eggs. Yikes. The Atlantic moon snail is an example of a snail that feeds on its own.
A snail’s mouth is called radula, and it has thousands of microscopic teeth called denticles. You may be a night person, and guess what, so are snails. Snails are nocturnal (active at night). They also like very early mornings when it’s cool and the sun is about to rise.
Snails love wet soil as it makes it easier for them to move around.
The giant African land snail can make for a good pet.
Wild snails get water from the food that they consume, and they love dark, moist places. They prefer when the weather is humid and cool.
Do Snails Eat Dirt?
Dirt is a general term that can mean several things. In this case, it either refers to soil or organic waste.
Aside from other known invertebrates like worms, snails are among the most known decomposers. Decomposers feed on plants, dead animals, and even faeces.
Snails are equipped with small bodies to break down large pieces of dead things and other waste. Without snails, plants wouldn’t get their nutrients, and dead matter and debris would pile.
Snails also feed on sand and soil. Aside from other sources of calcium for their shells, such as plants, soil also provides a rich source.
What Do Snails Like To Eat Most
The food that snails eat depends mostly on where they live and what species they are. With the many food choices available, you won’t get a headache wondering what to feed your snail. So, what are the foods they can eat?
- Fruits – Snails love to feed on fruits like apples, kiwi, mango, apricot, grapes, strawberry, raspberry, nectarine, watermelon, bananas, and pumpkin.
- Peelings from the kitchen in your home are also a favorite of snails. They enjoy peelings of plantain, watermelon, cooked potatoes, and carrots.
- Specially formulated snail food – Get busy and whip up a unique formulation combined with items like soybean, maize, beans, and groundnuts for your snail.
- Vegetables – Don’t just feed your pet snail fruits; they love veggies as well. These vegetables are cucumber (a favorite for snails), lettuce, green beans, peas, broccoli, watercress, sweet corn, sprouts, carrots, and turnip.
- Calcium – As calcium builds and repairs their cells, they can’t live without it. Items like cuttlebone, calcium powder, bone meal, wood ash, shells from dead snails, and natural limestone are good sources of calcium.
- You can give cuttlebone directly to snails after breaking it into pieces, but other calcium sources should be given to snails after you have crushed and added them to their food.
- Seeds – Seed like pumpkin, sunflower, and hemp seeds can be fed to your snail.
- Cooked grains – Snails love to eat cooked oats and wheat bran.
- Fungi – Mushrooms are another food snails love to snack on.
- Eggshells – Another good source of calcium though snails prefer cuttlebone.
- Young dandelions (weeds).
- Kohlrabi leaves.
- Tuber crops like yam and cassava.
- Tree barks and stems.
- Dead animals/carrions.
- Some species of snails eat dead fish.
Land snails in a terrarium (a glass or plastic container with a tight lid) mostly eat the foods above. If you notice your snail(s) not eating all the food, you supply, try reducing the quantity.
Freshwater snails are omnivores and can also be kept as pets. You can place them in an aquarium along with your fish. Some popular freshwater snails are nerites, ramshorn, and apple snails. They eat foods like:
- Algae and debris – Freshwater snails feed on algae helping to keep the aquarium clean. You can also purchase algae wafers at pet shops but make sure they are “sinking wafers” as snails can’t eat floating food.
- Calcium – Cuttlebone and oyster shells provide a good source of calcium for freshwater snails.
- Veggies – Peas, carrots, cucumber, spinach, kale, broccoli, and lettuce are some foods to feed freshwater snails.
- Be sure to first blanch the veggies before feeding the snails.
- Dead plant matter
Food To Avoid When Feeding Snails
Though snails eat many different types of food, some can cause them harm. It would be best if you are mindful of what you give to your snails. These foods are:
- Salt- Salt is the biggest enemy of snails as it causes them to dehydrate fast. Salt drains their body of all moisture and can lead to death.
- Salty foods- Make sure the food you give your snails has no hint of salt.
- Processed foods- Starchy foods like rice, pasta, millet, bread, and crackers should not be fed to snails as they cause bloating and water retention. Snails find it hard to digest these foods which, which can lead to their death.
- Onions- Onions repel snails.
- Citrus foods- Oranges, grapefruit, lemon, and lime are some examples.
- Sugar- Please avoid feeding your snails sugary foods.
- Chlorine- Avoid giving snails chlorinated water as it is harmful to them.
- Contaminated homegrown foods- Avoid feeding your snails homegrown foods contaminated by poisonous gases like car fumes.
- Foods treated with pesticides- These foods can harm snails due to the chemicals found in them.
The above foods can quickly kill your snails, and that is not something you want. Snails can live a long and healthy life if you supply them with nutritious foods that they can enjoy.
Tips For Feeding Snails
So you finally got yourself a pet snail or two. What next? Knowing what feeding methods are efficient and which ones are not will go a long way in helping you take care of your snails.
Let’s look at the various tips to feed snails:
- As you can’t give your snails chlorinated water, you can leave water out in the sun overnight to enable the chlorine to evaporate. Once this happens, the water will be safe enough for your snails to drink.
- Place water in a clean, shallow container so that your snails won’t drown.
- Blanch and cool the foods before feeding snails- Hard foods such as potatoes and carrots should be boiled before giving to snails as this will make it easier for them to consume the food.
- Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before giving them to your snails. These foods could contain pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to your snails.
- You can peel apples and pears to make it easier for your snails to eat them.
- Peeling fruits could also remove any pesticide that may have been on the skin.
- Please make sure you wash all your snail food in dechlorinated water to make it safe for consumption.
- You can help your snails to eat by attaching produce to the side of the tank with a clip. These clips are available for purchase in pet stores.
- Remove any food left uneaten by the snails in twenty-four hours to prevent mold from developing.
- Treat your snails once in a while. If you give them the same type of food daily, they can get bored and not eat. Try alternating foods to find out what foods they prefer.
- Break the food into small pieces before feeding it to your snails. Their radula will do the rest of the work by scraping the food, further breaking it down into small food particles.
FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions)
How to know if a snail is male or female?
Snails are hermaphrodites because they possess both male and female reproductive organs.
Can a snail recognize a human?
Snails have lousy eyesight but a strong sense of smell which will help them recognize how you smell.
Snails can become a part of your family. Whether it’s a land snail or a freshwater snail, always ensure it’s well-fed and in good condition. Fruits and vegetables are sufficient enough for any snail, and they can even co-exist with fish. Lastly, your snail can provide you companionship for years to come.