If you are a die-hard metal music fan like me, you might have watched “The Pot” video from the band Tool, where the snails gobble up the poor farmer’s cabbages.
But in reality, do garden snails really create that much nuisance? What is the preferred food of snails?
Let’s find out what garden snails eat and whatnot.
What Do Garden Snails Eat?
Garden snails are omnivorous pests. They feed on crops, vegetables, flowers, cereals, rose bushes, tree bark, herbs, fruits, carrions, and decomposed vegetables or animals.
What Do Garden Snails Eat In The Wild?
Depending on the species, garden snails can be omnivores, carnivores, or detritivores. However, the common ones that creep in our backyards are mostly herbivores. They feast on leaves, tree bark, flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
Garden snails come out during summer, spring, and autumn. Most of the foods they seek in the wild blossom during these seasons.
And the snails hibernate in the winter. And if the weather’s too hot, they will aestivate.
Most carnivore snails live in the ocean. However, there are some predatory terrestrial snails, too.
Here are some of them:
Rosy Wolf Snail (Euglandina rosea)
This is a notorious snail found in Hawaii. It was actually introduced there in 1955 to control the invasive African land snail population.
However, it backfired as it quickly infested the whole region and started devouring other species of snails as well. It was a blunder from the conservationists because this snail is the sole reason behind the extinction of eight native snail species in Hawaii.
Rosy wolf snails are voracious predators and feed on smaller snails and slugs. In addition, their cannibalistic traits encourage them to eat smaller snails of their own species.
Did you know that rosy wolf snails have now been officially declared a noxious species in French Polynesia?
Unfortunately, this means you cannot take a live one to those islands.
Dellocate Snail (Rumina decollata)
It is helpful to know the species of snails that come into your garden. Dellocate snails are beneficial to have nearby if you have a kitchen garden.
They are omnivores, and their primary diet is other garden snails, especially the herbivore ones. Their feeding behavior helps control the pest snail population.
Even though they do eat plants, their food choice outweighs the damage.
Gray Lancetooth (Haplotrema concavum)
Native to eastern North America, gray lancetooth snails are omnivores and feed on other garden snails, nematodes, and plants.
Two-Tone Gulella (Huttonella bicolor)
The origin of the two-tone gullela hasn’t been confirmed yet. However, researchers report that they might have come from Asia or Southern Africa.
They are now widespread in the southeastern region of the United States.
They are carnivores, and their diet includes other snails like the hothouse alien snail.
What Do Herbivore Snails Eat In The Wild?
Herbivore snails consume a wide variety of food in the wild. They mainly eat parts of live plants: stems, leaves, and fruits, as well as crops. Similar to freshwater snails, some species of herbivore snails also consume algae.
What Do Snails Eat In Captivity?
If you have a captive garden snail, provide them with plants, fresh vegetables, and fruits. Wash the food thoroughly as they are often contaminated with additives to increase shelf life.
Always have the food stock full. Remove any rotten parts before keeping them in the refrigerator to prevent mold growth.
How To Feed A Snail?
Before feeding, ensure the terrarium is at proper room temperature. Do not let any direct sunlight fall on your snails. Try your best to emulate their natural habitat. You can do it by adding branches, leaves, and chemical-free soil. Keep the terrarium well-ventilated.
Food That You Can Feed Snails
- Commercial foods
- Other pet foods
- Raw meat
Fruits contain necessary nutrients for snails. You need to wash them properly before feeding. Remove rotten portions.
The cover of the fruits has more nutrition compared to the fruits inside them. Hence, you can also feed fruit skin.
Some fruits that you can feed your snails:
- Oranges (with or without peels)
Just like with the fruits, have the veggies thoroughly washed. Again, make sure they are fresh. And if you want to feed hard-textured vegetables like potatoes, you can soften them by boiling them.
Vegetables you can feed your sails:
- Potatoes (Boiled)
Commercial foods can be your go-to food choice for your snails. If you need something right away to feed your snails, this is the one. They provide an abundant amount of protein and calcium necessary for your little friends.
Commercial foods for snails come in several options.
You get to choose from fruit and vegetable flavors. I feed my snails fruit-flavored, and they absolutely love them.
Here’s a link to the commercial food that I feed my snails:
Although snails get calcium from their daily food, organic calcium cubes can be helpful if your snails need to heal from an injury quickly.
Snails are delicate and are easily susceptible to shell damage from minor accidents. So, feeding organic calcium will strengthen their shells and hasten their recovery.
Calcium supplements needn’t be fed only during injury. Your snails can have them daily.
Here’s an organic calcium supplement for your little friends:
Other Pet Foods
Snails aren’t picky eaters and can feed on a wide variety of foods. This includes other pet foods like dog food, cat food, turtle food, and avian food.
However, it isn’t recommended to give them daily.
If you have predatory snails, you need to give them raw meat. Do not add any seasonings. Include chicken, fish, beef, eggs, eggshells, and insects.
You can provide seeds to your garden snails. But you have to soak, grind or crush them before feeding. Some popular seeds to feed snails are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds.
What Foods Should Snails Avoid?
Avoid feeding salty, spicy, and dairy products to your snails. Also, do not give them foods that have preservatives and additives. For example, canned foods contain preservatives to increase shelf life – so, do not feed them.
Foods you need to avoid feeding snails are:
- Canned food
- Color-added food
- Dairy products
- Whole grain food
- Spicy and salty food
What To Feed Baby Snails?
Luckily for us, baby snails also eat the same foods that adults eat. But it is recommended to feed them calcium supplements or calcium-rich foods to strengthen their shells.
Baby snails are born with shells. For the first few days, they depend upon the eggshells they were born in.
However, this protein and calcium reserve will run dry after a couple of days.
That is why you need to provide calcium supplements along with regular diets from the beginning.
Are Snails Cannibals?
Not all snails are cannibals, especially herbivores. However, most carnivore snails are cannibals. They will devour smaller snails of their own species. Freshwater snails are often found feeding on dead remains of their own species.
There are pieces of evidence on sibling cannibalism among hatchlings of carnivorous snails. For example, the newborns of the common garden snail (cornu aspersum), widely considered herbivores, eat their siblings.
What Do Sea Snails Eat?
Like the terrestrial snails, sea snails can be herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. Most herbivore snails eat different types of algae, whereas the carnivores eat smaller snails, slugs, carrion, worms, and even fish.
If you want to know more about a sea snail diet, check out this article:
Final Words On What Do Garden Snails Eat
Snails aren’t picky eaters. However, there are some foods that they should avoid, like salty, spicy, and dairy products.
Feed them foods filled with calcium and protein for shell development. For herbivores, provide veggies, fruits, and parts of plants like stem, leaves, and flowers.
Carnivores can eat raw meat, calcium supplements, and feeder snails.
I hope this article helped you know what garden snails eat in the wild and in captivity.