What Do Garden Snails Eat? – Tips for Deterring

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

what do garden snails eat

Whether you’re planning to have snails as pets or remove them from your yard, answering the question “what do garden snails eat” is essential. You’ll be able to give these mollusks the proper nutrients or know whether they’ll target your plants.

Generally, snails eat leafy greens, flowers, fruits, tree branches, grass, herbs, fungi, seeds, etc. Read below for more information.


What Is a Snails Favorite Food?

Whether in the wild or in captivity, snails consume leafy greens, flowers, and fruits since they are primarily herbivorous. Snails favor kale, broccoli, lettuce, and spinach. However, they consume other vegetables as well, such as artichokes, carrots, peas, potatoes, zucchini, sweet corn, and peppers.

The calcium in leafy greens helps strengthen snail shells and takes up a fifth of their diets. Other sources of calcium are bones, soil, and eggs.

  • In terms of flowers, snails will eat chamomile, hibiscus, lilies, petunias, carnations, magnolias, and roses. Still, their favorites are clovers, marigolds, and dahlias.


  • Some of the snails’ favorite fruits are apples, kiwis, peaches, strawberries, mangos, grapes, plums, and bananas. On the whole, it’s best not to feed these mollusks citrus fruits such as oranges, since you’ll have to moderate the amount of acid they get, adding unnecessary trouble to your life.


  • Another snail food is tree branches, which are often consumed after rainfall. If your garden has snails, you’ll likely see their slimy trails on rocks around ground plants during summer and spring, often at night or on cloudy days when the environment is wet. Indeed, snails tend to climb up trees to feed themselves.


  • Do snails eat mushrooms? The answer is yes. Land snails will eat fungi and algae, which gives them an extra reason to stay near rocks and wet areas. Similarly, other snails (sea and freshwater types) will also consume algae.


  • Seeds are one common snail feed. However, they need to be softened up beforehand (through soaking and pulverizing, for example). This requirement also applies to rice and oats if you plan to give them to snails.
  • If you have dog and cat food, it’s okay to give it to snails. This practice is convenient when you don’t want to prepare different meals for every pet you own.


  • Aside from the foods listed above, you might notice a snail eat grass and herbs as well, but less frequently. Grass isn’t as nutritious to snails as greens or fruits, and few herbs are tolerable to these slimy creatures. Some herbs they can eat are chives, dill, and marjoram.

Meat and paper or cardboard aren’t popular choices of nutrition for snails. The former is eaten only by carnivorous and omnivorous snails. At the same time, the latter may have ink that’s bad for these mollusks.

What Can I Feed Baby Snails?

Baby snails eat the same foods as adult ones, so you can give them all the things we listed above. Also, remember to place them in a humid environment (above 65% humidity).

Foods Snails Cannot Eat

Now that you’re aware of what to feed garden snails, it’s vital to know what they cannot eat as well, especially if you want your snails to be healthy. Check out the list below.

  • Salt


Avoid salting vegetables or any other food you give snails, as salt can dehydrate and kill them.

  • Dairy products

Given that calcium plays an important role in snails’ diet, one would think dairy products will benefit these mollusks. That is not the case, however. Snails will be better off consuming powdered calcium, dead snail shells, and cuttlebone, in addition to the calcium sources we mentioned above.

  • Canned food

Do not give snails canned foods that contain preservatives and color additives unless you want to endanger them.

How To Remove Snails From Gardens?


So far, we’ve focused on keeping snails healthy by giving them the right foods, but what if those foods are in your garden and you don’t want them to be eaten? Follow the tips below to eliminate snails from your yard.

  • Using beer or yeast and water

Although beer is not the answer to what can snails eat, it can attract and even kill them. You can pour beer into big bowls and place them in your garden. The snails will move towards the beer and drown themselves.

Alternatively, you can use a mixture of yeast and water.

  • Making structural changes to gardens

Remove dwelling places for snails, such as bricks, rocks, and wooden boards. Also, make your garden less wet by improving air circulation and sunlight penetration. This way, snails won’t have places where they can absorb moisture for survival.

  • Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth


Commonly used for killing insects, diatomaceous earth is widely available in 2-pound and 10-pound varieties and can be used to kill snails.

Just pour a layer of it around your plants. If snails try to eat your veggies or flowers, the powder will dehydrate and kill them first. Just remember to reapply the product after rain washes it away.

  • Installing copper barriers

Copper barriers can shock snails and are best wrapped around plant pots and garden beds that don’t already have these creatures. For these obstacles to be effective, they must be at least an inch wide.

  • Using baits

Here’s where your knowledge of snail foods becomes useful. You can buy traps or use overturned flower pots and pair them with lettuce, kiwis, and other foods that can attract snails.

Alternatively, commercial baits like Deadline, Sluggo, and Bug-Geta may be used. Just read and follow the directions for these products.


Hopefully, you now have helpful knowledge regarding what do garden snails eat. Whether you’re starting a snail farm or planning pest control measures for your garden, know that snails like leafy greens, fruits, and flowers the most. The only snails for whom this does not apply are carnivorous snails, such as the two-tone Gulella.

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