Where Do Snails Go During Winter? Where Do They Disappear?

Apr 26, 2022

Where Do Snails Go During Winter?

Snails are cold-blooded creatures. Unlike warm-blooded animals, they aren’t adept enough to maintain their body temperature. Instead, their survival solely relies on external factors, primarily the environment.

So, what happens to these gastropods in winter as they cannot generate heat on their own? Where do they go? Will they freeze to death?

Let’s find out. 

Where Do Snails Go During Winter?

If it is freezing outside, snails will hibernate. They will search for cover and huddle together in a group to generate heat. Before going into hibernation, they stop eating to remove any traces of chemicals from their gut that might cause their internals to freeze. 

Hibernating in a cluster is a unique behavior snails display. Often, hibernating by huddling in groups is only observed in warm-blooded animals. So, it is impressive to witness this phenomenon in gastropods like snails. 

Most snails can survive brutal weather conditions. Some snail keepers report that their pets were still alive even when the mercury dropped below 3 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these are anomalies.

Let’s discuss how snails hibernate.

They Search For Cover

Snails’ permeable skin helps them notice the slightest change in their environment. So, as winter starts, they prepare for hibernation by searching for suitable shelter.

After they deem the temperature to be cold enough for hibernation, they will search for a secluded area where they can sleep without any threats from predators. Mostly, these spots are under tree logs, boulders, or in tree hollows. 

They Will Empty Their Stomachs

Snails overeat during summer. But as winter approaches, they gradually slow down their food intake and eventually stop eating. This is because they need to get rid of the liquid present in their digestive system.

If they fail to do so, there’s a high risk that the liquid in their guts will freeze, and they will die. 

They Will Seal Their Shell

Snails produce slime for several reasons. And one of them is to create a dry layer over the operculum, known as epiphragm. 

Although the primary function of this layer is to reduce water loss during inactivity, it also prevents cold from seeping inside their shell during hibernation. 

Contrary to regular slime, which is soft in texture, these epiphragms are hard as they are reinforced with calcium carbonate to deal with harsh winter.

They Will Slow Down Their Body Metabolism 

Now that they have stopped eating, the metabolism rate is drastically reduced. As a result, breathing and heartbeat are also slowed down. This is done to conserve energy to survive deep slumber.

Snails Wake Up When It Gets Warmer

Snails wake up when the climate gets warmer, often after 6 to 8 months. However, there are recorded instances where species like pond snails have slept for over 3 years. And as I said earlier, that’s an anomaly. 

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Where Do Freshwater Snails Go During Winter?

Freshwater snails also search for covers in their natural habitat, like terrestrial ones. The only difference is that they do it underwater. Some attach themselves to plants’ stems, while some stay buried. 

What Happens To Snails In Winter?

Snails search for a hiding place where they can peacefully commence their long winter nap. They will lower their metabolism rate and cover their operculum with thick mucus, the epiphragm. 

At What Temperature Do Snails Hibernate?

Snails prepare for hibernation when the temperature falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if they aren’t well prepared on time, it will cost them their lives because their bodies cannot tolerate a temperature drop – below 23 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Do Snails Disappear In Winter?

Snails search for refuge in impervious places to survive brutal winters. They will stay sealed together in nooks and crannies like under the rocks and leaves, under logs and tree trunks, and in tree hollows. This is why we don’t see them in winter. 

Where Can I Find Hibernating Snails?

We can find hibernating snails buried under leaves and rocks, under logs, and in tree hollows. 

How Do You Get Snails Out Of Hibernation?

Careful precautions should be exercised before waking snails out of hibernation. Here’s how you do it:

  • Gradually increase the enclosure’s temperature by a few degrees per day, simulating the natural warming process. 
  • You can pour warm water to accelerate the action. 
  • Have the food ready near their hibernating spots because they haven’t eaten for months and will not have the energy to travel in search of food. 

Do Snails Hibernate In Aquarium?

Hibernation is an extreme measure that snails choose to undergo only when their body finds it hard to survive the cold. But as captive snails have access to all creature comforts, it is rare for them to hibernate in an aquarium. 

Can Snails Survive The Cold?

Not all snails can survive the cold. If they cannot find places where they can remain warm, they will not be able to survive sub-zero temperatures. Normally, if the hideout’s temperature drops below 23 degrees Fahrenheit, they will freeze to death.

Can Snails Freeze To Death?

Yes, snails do freeze to death if the temperature drops too low. Also, if they were underprepared before hibernation and couldn’t remove gut fluids on time, these liquids would freeze and result in their death. 

Are Snails Active In Winter?

Snails hate the winter season. It is hard for them to find food, and also, the humidity is low during this time, making it hard for them to remain hydrated.

Where Should I Put A Snail Outside?

Snails require moist environments to rehydrate their bodies. To travel, they need to secrete a generous amount of mucus, causing rapid water loss from their bodies. So, it will be better to put them in damp areas to hydrate their bodies and find shelter away from direct sunlight.

Do Garden Snails Hibernate In Winter?

Yes, garden snails do go into hibernation during winter. Although they are hardy than most snails, they still need to find refuge to avoid cold. You can find them sleeping under rocks and leaves, in tree hollows, and under logs. 

Final Thoughts

We all wonder how come the hordes of snails that invaded our yards in summer disappeared without a clue in the winter. The answer to this is that they hibernated. 

Snails don’t like winters because there is nothing to eat around, and the temperature is too chilling. Even the humidity in the air is low. Therefore, their biological senses force them to undergo hibernation. 

Right before the winter arrives, they will search for hideouts where they can sleep undisturbed. They will slow down their activities and secrete a thick layer of mucus, which acts as a blanket to avoid getting frozen. 

They will stay huddled up together until summer arrives again. 

Relevant Readings:

How Long Can Snails Go Without Water?

How To Get Rid Of Assassin Snails?

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

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.