What Do Snails Eat? Snails are categorized under the phylum Mollusca, making up the largest class of invertebrates. These miniature creatures are diverse feeders and what they eat depends on their classification as herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and detritivores.
Their diet is also determined by their body needs, e.g., the body’s need for calcium. As such, these little creatures eat an assortment of foods which may include plant matter, animals, decomposing material, sand, and small stones.
In this article, we will explore what do snails eat and their diets by different types of snails in the world of Mollusca.
Table of Contents
- What Do Snails Eat? Snail Diet By Types
- How Do Snails Hunt?
- When Do Snails Eat?
- How Often Snails Eat?
- What Eats Snails?
- Where do Snails Fit in the Animal Food Chain?
- Key References
What Do Snails Eat? Snail Diet By Types
The snails identified above consume varied diets, as summarized below:
What Do Giant African Land Snails Eat?
The Giant African Land Snail has Herbivorous diet consuming vegetables and also sand, bones, and small stones for calcium.
As the name suggests, this snail is native to Africa, and it is one of the largest snail species considering its approximate length of 20 cm. This gastropod is considered to have a high reproduction rate. Its habitat constitutes river banks, streams banks, shrublands, gardens, plantations, and wetlands. It also has its home in a myriad of urban locations. This type of snail thrives in habitats that are humid and hot.
What Do Roman Snails Eat?
The Roman Snail is primarily herbivorous mainly eating fruits, leaves, tree sap, and other plant matter.
The Roman snail is native to Europe. This gastropod mollusk is widely known because it is edible. Its habitat mainly constitutes temperate forests which record low rainfall and which have humid temperatures.
What Do Garden Snails Eat?
The Garden Snail is also mainly herbivorous eating a vast range of plant matter. Sometimes they are also detritivores and omnivores. They feed on the decomposing organic matter from plants and animals, and even crushed animals like other snails and worms.
This gastropod is also referred to as the European brown garden snail, and its habitat is mainly terrestrial land. This type of snail is small, and it is ubiquitous thanks to its proliferation in terrestrial areas around the globe.
What Do Mediterranean Green Snails Eat?
The Mediterranean Green Snail is also Herbivorous and consumes native plants, leaf surfaces, and grass.
This type of snail is commonly found in the North African region, and its habitat is mainly in the rainforests. It is also native to Europe in the area near the Mediterranean Sea.
What Do Orchid Snails Eat?
Orchid Snails are Herbivores who feed on horticultural vegetation including orchids.
This bluish-grey gastropod mollusk is originally from North America. This is a small mollusk whose diameter can go only up to 6 mm. Its habitat is mainly in greenhouses, in orchids and other cultivated regions.
What Do Atlantic Moon Snails Eat?
Atlantic Moon Snail has Carnivorous diet (clams), Cannibalistic (eats other moon snails).
As the name suggests, this snail is commonly found in the Atlantic area, implying they are sea/marine snails. The habitat typical for these gastropod mollusks is in the marine environs.
How Do Snails Hunt?
Hunting is typical for carnivorous or cannibalistic snails like the moon snails.
- When a predatory snail spots its prey (often a clam, or another snail), it attaches itself to it.
- This attachment is done at the umbo (the part of the snail where its shells meet).
- Two interesting mechanisms are used to reach the meat from the prey.
- First, the snail, through its accessory boring organ, produces hydrochloric acid and enzymes which are instrumental in the process of ‘softening their preys shell.
- The second mechanism then commences after the shell has been softened.
- The snail then scrapes off the softened shell a process that results in the creation of a beveled hole.
- The carnivorous snail then extends its proboscis inside its prey and then scrapes its tissue and proceed to consume its prey alive.
When Do Snails Eat?
Snails are nocturnal feeders meaning they prefer dining at night as opposed to during the day when they are at risk of drying out because of the harsh temperatures and light.
How Often Snails Eat?
Snails eat once per day, and this is often at night. In some instances, they feed during the rainy days.
What Eats Snails?
Where do Snails Fit in the Animal Food Chain?
Snails have an essential place in the animal food chain. They are instrumental to the process dubbed calcium cycling. These gastropod mollusks find calcium from their food, accumulate it in their shells and further pass it up to the food chain to their predators (either shell invaders or crushers).
In general, these invertebrates provide the perfect sources for not only cleaning up the ecosystem by taking their role as organic decomposers but also supply food for a vast range of creatures in the food chain, some of which have been highlighted above.
- “Snails” – Montana University. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Facts About Snails”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Carnivorous Marine Snails | Center for Environmental Communication | Loyola University New Orleans”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Nocturnal Feeders – University of California Cooperative Extension Ventura”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Control Measures for Slug and Snail Hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, with Special Reference to the Semi-slug Parmarion martensi”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Mollusks : Carnegie Museum of Natural History”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Snail | EcoSpark”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “ADW: Achatina fulica: INFORMATION”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Burgundy or Roman snail ( Helix pomatia [L.] a largely herbivorous snail. | Download Scientific Diagram”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “GISD”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “BIOSECURITY SA – Plant Health”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “The Online Guide to the Animals of Trinidad and Tobago”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “Moon Snail – University of Puget Sound”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “A guide to common land molluscs and their relatives” – OREGON DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE GUIDES. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “File:Giant African Land Snail.jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.
- “File:Tanea undulata (Moon Snail).jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. Accessed June 14, 2019. Link.