Can Turtles Eat Snails? (What Kind And How Many Per Day?)

Jun 17, 2021

can turtles eat snails

From the deepest ocean trenches to the crisp deserts of Sahara, snails can live and thrive everywhere. Snails don’t have the most exciting personalities, but they sure are hardy. So, can they survive in a turtle tank? Or can turtles eat snails? 

Keep reading!

Can Turtles Eat Snails?

Yes, turtles can absolutely eat snails. Snails are a part of turtle’s natural diet in the wild, alongside several other critters like slugs, worms, and roly-poly bugs. However, snails can sometimes host harmful parasites like flukes, which can be damaging for turtles. You should never breed or give wild snails to your turtle. 

Can Pet Turtles Eat Snails? 

Yes, pet turtles can eat snails too. Generally, turtles prefer live food to pellets and veggies. Thus, even in captivity, one must give live food occasionally, and turtles make perfect treats. 

I am vegetarian and a bit squeamish, but that doesn’t mean I can deprive my pet turtles of live food, right? 

Watch this cool ASMR video of red-eared sliders munching on snails!

Can Baby Turtles Eat Snails?

Baby and juvenile turtles can easily eat small to medium-sized snails. Irrespective of where they’re raised, young turtles tend to prefer carnivorous diets. And luckily, snails make great protein supplements, which they quite vitally need in early life. 

However, they may not be able to break or chew the shell. In that case, turtles usually swallow other parts and discard the shell. 

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Live Or Canned Snails? What’s Better For Turtles?

There are too many caveats and hassles attached to rearing and feeding raw snails. They can contain harmful parasites that can be easily transmitted to turtles. Plus, not all turtles can break and digest snail shells. Thus, I resort to canned snails. 

Here’s one I feed from Zoo Med – Can O’ Snails Turtles Food. 

This snail food comprises 25-30 deshelled, farm-raised snails packed in natural juices. 

I prefer this option, but if you plan to feed live snails, don’t forget to keep this in mind. 

Live Snails Can Contain Harmful Parasites

Live snails caught in the wild can cause parasites like lung fluke that can be deadly for turtles. Snails often act as intermediate hosts for several kinds of parasites and pathogens. 

For instance, this study chronicles the lung fluke infestation in loggerheads caused by Goniobasis snails. 

If you are going to feed live snails, make sure that you buy them from reliable pet stores. Also, it goes without saying, but don’t breed snails caught in the wild in the same tank as turtles. 

What Kind Of Snails Can Turtles Eat? 

Snail on the road
Snail on the road

In the wild, turtles will eat all kinds of snails they can chew and digest. For your captive turtle, you can try ramshorns, apple snails, pond snails, mystery snails, and so on, depending on your pet’s dietary needs. 

If you’re giving snails from the garden, make sure they’re not exposed to fertilizers, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. When ingested, these toxic compounds can stay inside a turtle’s system for several years. 

How Many Snails Can Turtles Eat? 

Although turtles love munching on snails, it’s not wise to give too much too often. I give around two snails each to my turtles once every ten days. And they absolutely love it. 

Turtles are greedy eaters. So, make sure you are moderating their snail intake since consuming too much protein can cause pyramiding. 

And that takes us to our next section. 

Nutrition Table For 100 Grams Of Snail 

Nutrient Amount
Calories 90 
Total Fat1.4 grams 
Cholesterol 50 milligrams
Protein16.1 grams 
Potassium 11%
Calcium 1%
Phosphorus 27%
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin B6  7%

Source

Note: Percent values are calculated based on a 2000 calorie diet

Are Snails Healthy For Turtles? 

Yes, snails are perfectly healthy for turtles as long as you give them in moderation. Besides being an excellent source of protein, snails also contain other nutrients turtles need like vitamin A, calcium, and potassium. 

However, it’s essential to know that a captive turtle’s metabolism and nutritional needs can be quite different from their wild cousins. A wild turtle relatively gets lots of exercises compared to captives. Thus, they usually have better digestion abilities. 

Giving too many snails to your turtle can cause protein overdose, which in turn can result in pyramiding. Likewise, the calcium: phosphorus ratio, which should ideally be 2:1 for turtles, is way off the mark in snails. 

So, make sure that you don’t go overboard just because your turtle likes them! 

Can Snails And Turtles Live Together? 

can snails and turtles live together
can snails and turtles live together?

The answer to this question is really subjective. It 100% depends on your turtle’s nature and dietary pattern. If your pet is used to eating animal protein, he will naturally think of snails as food. However, as turtles get older, they incline towards a herbivore diet – increasing a snail’s chance of survival. 

I dug through several forums and found a multitude of answers. Some said their turtles and snails cohabitated peacefully, while others complained of snails missing in a matter of few minutes. 

Nonetheless, there are a few things you can do to increase a snail’s chance of survival. They are:

  • Create hideouts using plants and decorations for snails
  • Introduce snails to the tank when the turtle is full

Can Musk Turtles Eat Snails?

Yes, musk turtles can eat snails, and they love it. They can eat most kinds of snails as long as their jaws permit. However, make sure that you’re not giving too many snails at once. 

Can Painted Turtles Eat Snails?

Snails form a good part of a painted turtle’s diet in its natural habitat. Thus, it’s perfectly safe for your pet. But since eating food with too much protein or phosphorus concentration can cause complications, make sure you give snails only occasionally. 

Can Turtles Eat Garden Snails?

Yes, turtles can safely eat garden snails if they haven’t been exposed to snail bait or pesticides. If you’re buying live garden snails for your turtle, make sure you do so from a reliable, traceable seller. 

Final Words: Can Turtles Eat Snails

Yes, turtles can eat snails. It is among staple food options for most turtle species. And since turtles prefer animal protein over other options, you can give your pet one or two snails occasionally. 

However, since there are quite a few risks to take care of when giving live snails, I rely on canned, deshelled options. 

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rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.