Snail poop: How do they do it and what does it look like?

Snails are creatures that some people may find gross, and their poop could be one of the reasons why. So, how do they do it? And what does it look like?

Snails excrete feces from their anus, which is located towards the front of their body and inside their shell (on the same side as their head). When a snail poops, poop comes out of its anus and slides out of the shell. It resembles a long, thin sticky tube that rolls to the ground. In this article we will cover the following:

  • Understanding what snails are.

  • What snails eat.

  • A snail digestion process.

  • How snails poop.

  • How often snails poop.

  • Where snails poop.

  • How harmful or toxic snail poop can be.

  • Cleaning snail poop.

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Table of Contents

What are snails?

Snails are a type of mollusc, which is an invertebrate (animal without a backbone). Snails have a slimy covering on their body and a hard shell that they can retreat into when necessary. There are many different types of snails, and they come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. Some common types of snails include garden snails, sea snails, and land snails.

snail's shell

The diet of a snail

Did you know that snails are more similar to cows than insects? Many people would group snails with insects rather than mammals when classifying organisms into broad categories. Snails, on the other hand, are more similar to mammals than they are to insects when it comes to their diet.

That’s because, unlike most mammals and all snails, insects tend to be specialists when it comes to food.

Herbivores, on the other hand, are more generalists and eat a wide range of plants from numerous plant families. It turns out that snails have diverse diets that include a variety of plants from several plant families, making them more similar to mammals than insects in their eating habits. Did you know that if you fed only carrots to snails, their poop would eventually turn orange?

So now you know why snails are more like cows than insects.

Have a read of DIET-WISE, SNAILS ARE LIKE COWS, NOT BUGS by Timothy A. Pearce for a more in-depth explanation.

Fancy a snail joke?

Two snails were munching a tasty salad made with a large number of different plants. One of the snails accidently dropped one of the exotic leaves from the salad. The other snail said, “You can still eat it, use the five-hour rule.” – Timothy A. Pearce Scientist and Leading expert on molluscs.

snail poop depends

How snails digest food

Chewing

Snails have a cartilage jaw that they use to tear and grip food. They munch or remove food from a surface using a tongue-like ribbon of many tiny microscopic-type teeth.

Saliva

To create a pulp or paste, tiny food pieces are combined with saliva. Now the meal is moist enough to be pushed down the snail’s esophagus with muscular contractions, and the food mixture goes into the snail’s stomach.

Digestive fluids

The stomach produces digestive fluids, which digest the foods in the stomach, including fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and cellulose.

The intestine absorbs nutrients as waste goes in. Unabsorbed food and items that snails can’t digest, such as grass, travel through the intestine toward the anus.

The Shell

The shell protects the internal organs of a snail, including the liver, lungs, heart, and stomach. This is one of the most significant differences between snails and slugs.

Torsion

When a snail is very young, its shell rotates or turns 180 degrees to face the other way. This is known as “torsion.” The organs of the snail turn from front to back when torsion occurs.

For example, at birth, the snail’s lung and anus are located at the rear of its shell. After torsion, the lung and anus move to the front of the shell, nearest to the head of the creature. Torsion is thought to occur for protection experts have explained.

How Do Snails Poop?

Survival

When the anus is in front of the shell, the snail can pull itself into its shell headfirst for increased safety and a greater probability of survival by keeping its head.

On the other side of the shell, closest to the front is a tiny hole. The air enters the shell through this aperture so that the snail may breathe with its internal lung. A breathing hole is what it’s called.

The journey of the poop

Now, the breathing hole plays an important role when it comes to snail poop… after all, that’s why you’re here right?

Snail poop is discharged from the anus, which is near to and connected to the lung and breathing hole. This implies that when a snail poops, it does so in its shell. The poop then falls through the breathing hole and out of the shell’s side, falling to the ground or whatever surface the snail is crawling on.

The poop doesn’t come out of its head or mouth

Some people believe that a snail’s poop comes out of its head or mouth. This isn’t the case! Because the breathing hole is so near to the snail’s head, when the poop slips out, it’s difficult to determine where it originates.

What Does Snail Poop Look Like?

The snail’s poop is tiny and resembles strings of brown or green material. However, the color can differ based on what the snails eat. When the slime dries off completely, it turns darker in color and gets even smaller.

Where do snails poop?

Snails expel feces from their anus, which is located in the rear of their shell along with (on the same side as) their head. When a snail relieves itself, feces come out of its anus and slide down the shell before exiting through the other side. It resembles a long, slippery tube that disintegrates on the ground.

Snails poop anywhere they please… and that includes your garden! When you see snail slime or slug trails, there’s a good chance that they’ve left their mark (or poop) behind.

mystery snail poop

How Often Does A Snail Poop?

A snail’s digestive system is fairly slow, so it can take a few days for food to travel from the mouth to the anus. This means that a snail doesn’t have to poop very often, usually once every 1-2 weeks.

However, this all depends on how much the snail eats. If a snail is munching on food constantly, it will need to relieve itself more frequently. On the other hand, if a snail isn’t eating much, it can go without pooping for a longer period of time.

snail in hand

Is Snail Poop Harmful Or Toxic?

In short, no. Snail poop is not harmful or toxic to humans, animals, or plants. In fact, snail poop can actually be good for your garden!

Snails consume a variety of things like algae, dead leaves, and other types of plant food. As they digest these items, they release nitrogen and other minerals that act as fertilizers. This helps to encourage the growth of plants and flowers.

snail poop toxic

How To Clean Snail Poop

If you are referring to garden snails, then don’t even worry about it, the poop will disintegrate and be reabsorbed by the soil in no time. If you have snails in a aquarium then do the following:

  • Remove the snails and store them in a secure container.

  • Remove all of the decorations, pebbles, and stones from the aquarium.

  • To expose the hidden dirt, feces, and other waste, use an algae scraper to scrape out the snail poop from the aquarium glass. Siphon off any remaining sludge by siphoning it away.

  • Rake over the substrate until clean.

snail in water

How to get rid of snails in your yard?

If you don’t know what to do about snails wreaking havoc in your garden, we’re here to help.

Here are some of the most common methods suggested by gardeners that you may try to eliminate snails:

  • Around the plants, you want to protect, layer a thick covering of pistachio nutshells. These salty and sharp shell fragments will deter the snails from crossing them. You don’t need to remove the shells after. They will decompose and break down in the soil naturally.

  • Sand has a dry, textured texture that snails dislike. You won’t have to worry about them coming into your garden if you make sand circles around specific plants and shrubs.

  • A low-cost alternative is to go out and capture snails with your hands (we advise wearing gloves for this). After sunset and rainfall, when the snails are most likely to be present. Place the snails on the ground and stand on them or crush them with a rock. To drown them, throw them into a pail of soapy water.

killing and removing snails

Final Thoughts

The content provides information on snail poop, including what it looks like, where it comes from, and how often snails need to relieve themselves. Snail poop is not harmful or toxic to humans, animals, or plants, and can actually be beneficial to gardens. Methods for getting rid of snails in the garden are provided so we hope you know what to do if you have an infestation!

snail on plant

People Also Ask

Can snails feel pain?

In many ways, they react to what we would think of as painful stimuli in the same manner that we do. It’s beyond our power to determine how far into their mind they feel the pain rather than a reflex action. Even when we don’t know, we should try to cause as little pain as possible, even if it is necessary to kill.

Do snails leave their shell?

Snails cannot leave their shell since their vital organs and other critical bodily systems are inside. If you observe what appears to be a snail out of its shell, it’s a slug. Slugs do not have shells.

How do snails reproduce?

Snails reproduce in the same manner as almost every other species – by mating and laying eggs. Hermaphrodites (individuals that have both male and female sexual organs) exist, which means two snails can fertilize each other.

snail babies image

Is it true snails poop out the color of their food?

Yes, snails excrete the color of their food. It comes out in a tiny thread that is incredibly sticky.

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Oliver Wright

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