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How to Feed a Snail

These slimy critters can be great pets and are especially great for school projects and teaching young children how to care for a living thing.

Safe food for snails

The following foods are safe for snails:

  • Apples
  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Black Berry
  • Butternut squash
  • Dragon fruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Nectarines
  • orange
  • papaya
  • prickly pear
  • peach
  • pear
  • plum
  • raspberry
  • strawberry
  • tomato
  • lettuce
  • broccoli
  • tomato plant leaves
  • spinach
  • cabbage
  • cucumber
  • green beans
  • lettuce
  • mushrooms
  • peas
  • Wild berries
  • potato
  • spinach
  • sprouts
  • sweet corn
  • sweet potato
  • turnip
  • watercress
  • dandelion leaves [make sure you get them somewhere far from the road, vehicle fumes may make your snail sick, or kill it.]
  • sunflower seeds [crushed and soaked]
  • pumpkin seeds
  • oats
  • chicken scratch/mash
  • crushed and soaked snail shells give the snail calcium [which they need to have a strong shell]
  • raw eggs
  • brown bread
  • milk powder
  • some raw meat that is cut into small pieces

Wet or dry, crushed or whole:

  • dog biscuits/cat treats
  • tortoise food

Calcium strength

Most all of these items must be crushed into a fine powder and soaked

  • Shells from dead snails
  • Calcium powder
  • Powdered oyster shells
  • Natural chalk
  • Natural limestone
  • Egg shells
  • Bone meal
  • Wood ash
  • Cuttle Bone

unsafe foods

  • Foods that have been treated by pesticides or contaminated by vehicle fumes
  • Salt
  • Millet and Pasta [Causes bloating through internal blockages]
  • Avoid starchy food

Water requirements

  • Never use tap water or faucet water [May contain chlorine]
  • Spring water/ filtered water works just fine.
  • If you don't have access to either of these things, you can leave tap water out in the sun for 48 hours to remove chemicals
  • Rinse off food in purified food [filtered water/spring water]
  • Water dishes can be really shallow, but snails don't need them.
  • Spray habitat with the correct water once every 1-2 days.


  1. Image titled CatchSnail Step 1
    Get a snail or catch one from your yard and place in a terrarium. It will need to have a cover to prevent escape. Placing aquarium gravel at the bottom is typically safe for the snail, so long as it isn't too fine [it may get stuck in their shell if it's too dry. Snails can slither over a razor blade and be fine because of the way their bodies are built]. If big enough, you can also place a few sticks or smooth river rocks in to add d├ęcor. [rinse off rocks with safe water if it's been inside for over a year, seeing as it may have chemicals on them]
  2. Image titled PlaceLettuce Step 2
    Place lettuce or other recommended plant (a piece about the size of their shells) on the base of your snail's enclosure.
  3. Image titled CheckDaily Step 3
    Each day, check on your snail to make sure the lettuce is fresh and not wilted or browning.
  4. Image titled ChangeFood Step 4
    Try to change his/her food at least three times a week or once every 1-2 days.
  5. Image titled Enjoy Step 5 21
    Enjoy watching your snail move about! It is especially interesting to watch 'em climb on glass.


  • Direct sunlight may bake your snail, so keep a house or shaded area in your cage, but light is good for snails.
  • Remember that all living things -- snails included -- deserve to be treated kindly.
  • You can put more that one snail in a container, though you need to make sure there is enough room for all of them.
  • Snails are drawn out by water. If your snail is curled up and sleeping dribble filtered/spring water in the shell and let it drip out. Never just leave water witting in it's shell. The snail will come out [during a rain storm they try to hide under something or soak up the water] and then you'll have the chance of letting it eat something.
  • Snails love company, and as many as 5 can fit in a 8 by 4 inch terrarium.
  • Be sure not to leave your snail where it gets too hot, cold, dry, or humid.
  • Some snails refuse to eat lettuce (or other food) that comes ready-to-eat (washed and what not), so try to use a fresh crop and wash it yourself.
  • If you keep more then one snail and want to name it, you may accidentally mix them up. Their shells are made of calcium carbonate, the same thing chalk is made of, so nail polish, acrylics, stickers, and other things can help you differentiate them. Remember that all of these things are permanent [excusing the sticker which is removable], so you can't take them off. A paint remover would kill your snail, and the paint itself might kill your snail if it touches its skin. When painting your snail, if it's sleeping, leave it be. DO NOT get paint in the skin, or inside of the shell, as it will kill it. [as mentioned before] Be careful, and don't go overboard!
  • Don't expose your snails to other animals that might eat them.


  • Never tug at your snail's shell if he/she is gripped to a surface and not letting go.
  • Be sure to clean the container/cage you use for your snail thoroughly!! If using soap, it is especially important to rinse it, because soap will kill snails on contact.
  • When picking up your snail, let it climb on a leaf or piece of paper. Picking it up by the shell is usually fine, but be careful. If it is gripping to something, slide it along the surface very slowly until it releases. All of these things will likely make your snail curl up in fear of being eaten, and then you will having nothing to do with your snail but wait.
  • Water is fine in the cage, but only a few drops. Some snails like sitting in water and curling up, but some don't. Snails can drown in water extremely easily, so it's best if you spray your terrarium with room temperature spring water, or moisten their food.
  • Be careful to keep lid on cage to prevent escape. Snails can wedge through small spaces!
  • Over stimulation will make your snail curl up. [in other words: If you touch your snail too much, it might curl up. Snails have different personalities, some like being held and touched, but some like to left alone.
  • DO NOT place water in cage. Snails are very good at drowning themselves, and do not need water for drinking. They get plenty moisture from lettuce leaves.
  • Please don't torture and/or kill it with salt and what-not.
  • If it is clear that your snail is not eating the food provided, try using some other plant (e.g., if it is not eating tomato leaves, give it spinach)or release it into your backyard.

Things you'll need

  • Terrarium
  • Smooth gravel or soft, moist dirt
  • Smooth river rocks and/or small sticks
  • Food ingredients listed above
  • Snail

Article Info

Categories: Snails and Slugs