How Long Can Snails Go Without Food? Up To A Year!

Mar 31, 2022

How Long Can Snails Go Without Food?

Have you noticed your snails behaving oddly as of late? Are you worried if your slimy friends aren’t eating enough? And if you suspect they are skipping their meals, you may wonder how long snails can go without food. 

It is of utmost importance that you know every detail about your pet. So, in this article, you will know why your snails aren’t eating, along with tips to bring back their appetite. 

Let’s dive in.

How Long Can Snails Go Without Food?

The duration a snail can go without eating varies from species to species. However, on average, most snails can live without food for about a month. And during hibernation or aestivation, they can even survive without food for 8 to 10 months. 

Snail species like the lanistes nyassanus are known to survive up to a year without food. Scientists believe this supernatural ability is directly linked to their lengthy lifespan, the longest among freshwater snails.

Although snail keepers like to feed our snails daily, it isn’t recommended. Unlike us, snails do not need to eat daily. Once they have eaten their fill, they will not crave food for about 3 days. 

Furthermore, their metabolism is slow enough to let them conserve energy, a backup plan for rainy days, especially during hibernation and aestivation. 

Yes, snails do go into hibernation to escape cold. 

Having said that, they also go into aestivation, a summer slumber, to prevent their bodies from drying due to heat. In addition, they will secrete mucus and seal the openings to limit the amount of heat entering their body before they sleep.

The same phenomenon is displayed during hibernation, too. 

So, once snails are sealed inside their shell, they will not have any opportunity to search for food. Usually, this prolonged sleep can last anywhere from 5 to 8 months. However, some species of snails are found to sleep up to a year!

You Might Also Like To Read:

How Long Do Nerite Snails Live?

Do Snails Need Oxygen? How Long Can They Hold Their Breath?

Why Do Snails Come Out When It Rains?

Why Is My Snail Not Eating?

There are several reasons behind snails not eating. First, snails often take time to adjust to new surroundings, which is one of the primary reasons for fasting. Other reasons could be lack of calcium in their body, low water temperature, diseases, or they have been feeding at night, which you might have missed.

Let me explain further.

Snails Don’t Eat During Acclimatization

Despite being famed for their sturdiness, snails need to acclimatize to thrive successfully in a new environment. So, during this transition period, they will cut off their diet to get their bearings right. 

This could explain why your slimy friends are on a strict diet. 

Lack Of Calcium In The Body Can Make Them Lose Their Appetite

Calcium is an important component that accounts for the growth and development of snails’ shells. This stresses why calcium should be highly incorporated into their diet. 

But when they are deprived of a calcium-rich diet, their bodies will cease to function normally, showing symptoms like appetite loss, weight loss, and deep retraction syndrome.

So, do not compromise while serving a lavish amount of calcium-infilled diet when feeding your pals. 

Snails Stop Eating In Colder Temperatures

Most freshwater snails find 65 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit as the ideal water temperature range in their habitat. And when they are compelled to live in a colder environment (below 65 degrees), they will slow down their metabolism and prepare for hibernation. As a result, they will abstain from eating. 

The stronger ones might be able to prepare for hibernation, whereas the weaker snails or the younglings could die an untimely death.

Fearing Predators Or Other Tankmates Could Be Another Reason

Snails are timid creatures who hide when they sense even the faintest of threats. Just try reaching your hands near its tentacles to see how fast they retract. 

And if you are housing them in a community tank with short-tempered tankmates, your snails might feel afraid and go into hiding. Or, they will remain retracted, fearing for their lives, resulting in fasting. 

What To Do If Your Snail Isn’t Eating?

If your snail isn’t eating, you need to isolate them in a separate container. Make sure you introduce new food. Singling out the fasting snail will let you observe its feces and how much it has eaten. If anything seems out of the ordinary, book an appointment with the vet immediately.

If your snail is doing fine and resumes eating in the new tank, you will know that there could have been some problem with your main tank. 

Check water parameters like nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels. 

Here’s a master kit from API that I use to keep the water parameters in my snail tank in check:

No matter how tough they appear, your snails will react badly in the presence of copper. It is their kryptonite. 

As for diet, mash or crush fruits and vegetables into tiny bits of soft foods. Cooked, raw, or parboiled, any will do. 

How Do I Know If My Snail Is Hungry?

If your snail moves too often and covers a distance within a few hours, it is definitely scraping for food, which means it is hungry. Other tell-tale signs could be no signs of algae or leftover fish food. This means that your snail has consumed everything edible and is still hungry. 

If you have assassin snails, telling whether they are hungry or not can be confusing. But if you find them tracking down other snails by following the slimy trails left behind, this means your assassins are hungry. 

But sometimes, they opt for another peculiar way to hunt their food. They will bury themselves and wait for their prey. 

Once the target approaches, these predators will resurface from under the substrate and pounce right on them with the help of their “foot”. And the rest is history. 

How Often Should Snails Be Fed?

Young snails need to be fed twice a day because they are most mobile at this stage. Their diet should consist of calcium-rich food like cuttlebone pieces. As for larger snails, you can feed them on alternate days, once every two days, because of their slow metabolism.

Adult snails can scrape food from their surroundings, so you don’t have to worry about their diet. They rely on algae, fish food, leftovers, carrions, and fish feces. 

Lastly, make sure you provide calcium supplements to maintain shell health. 

Here’s a CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT THAT I GIVE MY SNAILS. 

I haven’t asked my snails if they find it tasty. As of now, they haven’t complained.

How Long Can Snails Go Without Water?

It differs according to their species. For example, the aquatic snails can only survive for about 24 to 48 hours without water, whereas the terrestrial ones can survive for weeks, usually 2 to 3. 

Snails need water to make slime, which helps in locomotion and other vital bodily functions. And when they run out of water, their body gets shriveled, leading to their death.

But if the air has high humidity, it can increase their survival chances because their permeable skin allows them to absorb water from the air. 

However, if the precipitation is low, they will meet their end soon due to dehydration. 

How Often Should I Water My Snail?

Terrestrial snails, like garden snails, need to be watered or misted every other day. Garden snails rehydrate their body by soaking the moisture from the earth. So, make sure the soil is damp enough to let them absorb enough water from it.  

Do Snails Die When They Dry Up?

Snails need to produce slimes quickly, for which they require water. And when they are out on land, their water reserve will deplete fast, resulting in death.  

How Long Can A Snail Sleep Without Eating?

In case of hibernation or aestivation, snails can sleep anywhere from 6 to 8 months. But on normal days, they can sleep for about 2 to 3 days without eating. 

However, if your snail has been sleeping for weeks without eating, you need to find the underlying reasons.  

Check this article: Why Is My Snail Not Moving? Try Smelling!

Final Words

A gastropod’s appetite is much different from humans’ or any other mammalian’. And let me remind you that there are over 24,000 species in the snail category alone. 

So the answer to the question “How long can snails go without food” can be a tricky one to answer. However, after reading this detailed article, I hope you have found the answer you are looking for.  

Relevant Readings:

What Fish Eat Snail Eggs? How To Prevent Snail Infestation?

Do Snails Have Brains? Do They Feel Emotions?

How Long Can A Snail Live Out Of Water? 3 Weeks??

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.