Have you ever wondered what garden snails eat? You see them crawling around in your yard after the rain and come across them in your garden from time to time, but what keeps them there?
Odds are you’ve never seen their mouth or have any idea how they grow. You probably guess that they eat leaves, but that’s about as far as most people get.
Snails can be a lot of fun to look at, and if you’re a kid, you likely even scooped some up to play with for a few hours or even started a snail collection.
Snails are typically nocturnal animals. We see them when they come out after the rain, but for the most part, they are fairly elusive. You won’t see them at work and what they eat because they’re doing it while you’re inside asleep.
We’ve put together a list of everything garden snails eat to help you better understand why snails can be great for your garden.
A Bit of Info About Snails
Snails are so common that most people don’t dive too deeply into what type of animals these are. They’re not dogs, after all.
Snails are what are called gastropods. These are mollusks that crawl on a single soft body.
Interestingly, they have tentacles. Two of them are where their eyes are located. If you’ve ever looked at a garden snail up close, you’ve seen their eyes reaching up out from their bodies.
They also usually have two tentacles on their lower body that they use as feelers while they are moving about.
Snails, in addition to being a challenge for your garden, can also be kept as pets.
You can build a habitat for them in an empty fish tank with sticks, leaves, rocks, and other things you can grab from your backyard.
Just make sure that there is plenty of moisture in the enclosure because snails, as mollusks, need water to survive. If they dry out, they will quickly die.
Things that Garden Snails Eat
As you may have guessed, snails love to eat flowers, small stems, and all sorts of leaves. There are certainly some plants they prefer, and that is why you so often see them crawling around in your garden.
They have a special fondness for plants and animals. Garden snails are particularly active in the spring when plants are young and easier to eat. They go for the soft, new sprouts that are full of water.
Here are some plants that snails love to eat:
- Anything leafy – Snails will make a beeline for lettuce, cabbage, and any other leafy green that you’ve got growing in your garden. It’s a challenge stopping them from eating your vegetable leaves because, without leaves, your vegetables won’t grow!
- Strawberries – Snails will eat a lot of fruits, but they love strawberries. They will generally stay away from citrus fruits because the acid content is too high for them.
- Cucumbers – Snails eat plenty of cucumbers and cucumber plants if they are around. It’s a typical challenge for gardeners because cucumbers are one of the easier plants to grow in a lot of different climates.
- Carrots – Carrots are another popular snail snack. It takes them more time to eat a carrot than some of the other foods on this list.
- Weed Seeds – If you watch what snails are up to at night, you’ll likely see them crawling around in your yard looking for dandelions and other weeds. They’re easy to eat and give them plenty of nutrition.
This can be a good bonus for property owners who want a well-manicured lawn. Garden snails will help keep weeds in check.
- Flowers – Snails also love flowers. They will eat everything from the stem to the petals.
- Snail Food – If you’re keeping garden snails as pets, you can also buy snail food in pet stores. Usually, snail food is a mixture of vegetables and other foods that they enjoy eating.
- Fungi – Snails will gobble up any mushrooms that are growing in your yard. They love any type of fungi and will flock to anything that grows in moist, humid, dark parts of your property.
- Earthworms – Garden snails are perfectly fine restricting themselves to a vegetarian diet. Indeed, that’s most of what every snail will eat throughout their lives. They will, however, also eat animals. Snails eat earthworms and other small animals for the protein in them.
Snails Adapt to Their Habitats
Snails can be found in most parts of the world. A snail in Australia won’t eat the same diet as snails in Canada because the vegetation is different. They’ll adapt and eat whatever is available to them in the moist environments where they live.
For the most part, though, you can count on garden snails to eat anything leafy or that’s got a nice, juicy stem full of water.
If you’re keeping a garden snail as a pet, then you should think about getting them things from their natural habitat that they would eat if they were out in the wild. Feed them plenty of leafy greens, and throw in a cucumber or a carrot once in a while.
For a treat, toss in a mushroom now and then to keep their diet healthy and diverse. If you have weeds that grow in your garden or the yard, snatch them up and give them to your snail as a snack.