Snail Behavior and their Nature – Your Top Questions Answered

Snails are very sociable, silent, small, harmless creatures and can have a longer life span depending on the dwelling environment. They are nocturnal and unique from their physical appearance to their personality.

Like many animals that feel and think, snails do not have a unified brain. Instead, they possess a series of brainy ganglia and deploy only two cells in their body to make a complex decision about feeding. Surprisingly, they sometimes respond like they have emotions or feelings; however, their minds are distinct from birds, mammals, or reptiles.

Generally, snails do not have emotions or feelings as we understand them. They cannot process physical sensation or emotional information, since they have only an extremely primitive brain and a fundamental nervous system. As a result of this, they do not feel any physical pain when hurt.

The sense of pain is one of the most depressing moments any living creature can pass through. However, it is not easy to tell if a snail is feeling pain. However, they sense salt, heat, and other harsh environmental changes.

So, one would ask, do snails recognize their owners? Snails do not bond with their owners like cats and dogs, but you can earn their trust by offering them food and utilizing their strong sense of smell.

In this article, you will find answers to questions that relate to the behavior of snails and their cannibalistic nature.

You might also be interested in learning more about slugs, which are very similar yet still different from snails in What is the Difference Between Slugs and SnailsOpens in a new tab..

Do snails recognize their owners?

Snails do not bond with people like other home pets like dogs or cats would do. However, there are a lot of things you can do to enhance their trust in you. Once you have achieved their trust, they will begin to trust and like anything around them that can offer them food. Snails also prefer warm water that flows slowly, so you can use such creativity to earn their trust.

Snails are also known to have bad eyesight, so they are not capable of reorganizing things within their surrounding by sight. However, their sense of smell is quite powerful, and this is what they mostly use to recognize people or things within their surroundings. You can try rubbing the snail’s shell, neck, or head gently to bond with them. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Snails appear to be crepuscular or nocturnal creatures, hence are believed to be most active when people are retiring to bed, sleeping, or waking up in the morning. If you consider keeping snails as pets and want to watch their activities, then get prepared to be a night owl. You will have to stay awake late in the night to feed your snails as you enjoy their slow moves.

Read more extensively about bonding with snails and their personalities in this article- Can you bond with snails?Opens in a new tab.

Do Snails feed on other dead snails?

Most snail species are carrion feeders if the opportunity arises, even though their main source of diet is plant materials.Opens in a new tab. Snails need more calcium, hence will find them often rasping at other dead snail shells and may also occasionally attack other living snails to get calcium. 

Snails may be cannibals if they fail to find green feeds around them. They tend to gather around or on top of other dead snails as a source of food. Apart from feeding on other dead snails, they can also feed on algae, fish food, sand, dead insects, decaying plants, dead fish, bones, algae, among other dead matter. Get to know the best food for snails in this article here.

If you are still doubting snail’s cannibalism as a frequent behavior among gastropods, it is time you accept this reality. Several snail species including Pomacea bridgesii, the Rosy Wolf snail among other aquarium snails do feed on other dead snails.

Most snails in the wild like the Giant African Land Snail eat other dead snails, birds, slugs, and other dead matter as a source of protein.

Even the snails kept as pets are served with dead matter-like bones to supplement the protein consumption required for their healthy growth. This is what their counterparts in the wild look for in the dead snails they hunt and feed on.

Do slugs eat dead snails?

Slugs are soft-bodied, single-shelled gastropods in the mollusk group of animals. They feed on leaves, buds, corms, flowers, stems, bulbs, tubers, and roots using their rasping tongues. Most of these animals feed at night, leaving behind slime trails that can help you trace the level of their activity. They are mostly active during warm humid periods.

Snails and slugs have both been confirmed to feed on dead members of their species as a good source of protein (SourceOpens in a new tab.). Some slug species like the leopard slug (Limux maximus) are predatory and carnivorous, hunting other snail species and eating them alive or dead. Some Slug species also feed on eggs of snails or slugs.

Can snails cross-breed?

Snails Crossbreeding means mating with other snail species or a slug to produce offspring. But, is this possible in both cases? Let’s find out!

With other snails species

Crossbreeding with other snails species is possible but to an extent. In most cases but not all, we can see different snail species producing fertile hybrid offspring. Their method of mating is not clearly understood yet, and there is no documentation regarding that.

Most species of snails are isolated from others, so this hybridization process is not common. But when two different species of snails are in captivity, there is a more likely chance of crossbreeding. (Source)Opens in a new tab.

With slugs

Crossbreeding with slugs is an absolute NO, although they share similar reproductive features. Also, note that most organisms prefer to mate with their species. The video below explains more why crossbreeding between a snail and a slug is not possible.

To get more insight into the process involved in snail reproduction, check this article – Snails reproduction: How do snails reproduce?Opens in a new tab.

Why do snails get on top of each other?

Snails generally like climbing things, including climbing each other. You may mistake them to be fighting or mating, but this is their nature, as they like to group. They climb on top of each other just because they are concerned with getting where they are going, with completely no knowledge of other snails they are climbing on.

They tend to behave like they are oblivious of the existence of one another. Due to this behavioral factor, it is not advisable to keep small and big snails together because the big ones will scrawl over the little ones without even noticing they are doing this.

You can learn more about snails and their shells in How does a Snail Make its Shell? Your Full Guide on the Snail ShellOpens in a new tab..

Final Thoughts

Now you can clearly tell the behavior of snails and their interaction with their surroundings. Snails, just like other wild creatures or pets, need a correct nutritious diet and proper care. You are required to take good care of these creatures when under your care to help you maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Snails generally feed on organic matter, dead fish, other animals, and plant materials, dead plants, and other species of dead snails.

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