While snails seem innocent enough, these small creatures can wreak havoc in gardens. Snails consume the foliage and stems of various plants, and can leave damaging holes in your vegetables and flowers. Because of this, gardeners often wonder about animals that eat snails and whether they can attract them to their yard.
14 Animals That Eat Snails
Snails have a few defenses up their sleeves that cause most animals to second guess tasting these mollusks. There are, however, some animals that eat snails as a part of their regular diet. These animals are found in a wide array of habitats, including land, water, and even air.
Scientific Name: Mus
The sharp teeth of mice allow them to easily pierce the hard shell of the snail. This gives them access to the meat of the snail, which is what they are after.
With that said, however, mice will also consume the shell if no other food is available. In fact, the shells themselves hold various nutritional properties, and contain phosphorus and calcium.
Scientific Name: Anura
Frogs use their sticky tongue to help pull the snail out of their shell. Once the snail is free, the frog can easily consume the creature. Frogs also use these tongues as a way to catch the snail, pulling it down from a plant.
Scientific Name: Pleurodelinae
Newts are another predator of slugs and snails, as well as other small invertebrates. They can be found on both land and water, which means they act as double duty preying on land and water snails.
4. Box Turtles
Scientific Name: Terrapene
Box turtles are common throughout the United States and Canada, though they often remain elusive and out of sight. These slow-moving creatures can live up to 100 years, and regularly consume land snails as part of their diet.
Scientific Name: Soricidae
Shrews have a rather high metabolism, which means they need an abundance of food to stay healthy. They feed on a wide array of creatures, including snails and other slimy things, such as slugs and worms. Shrews typically travel in underground burrows, but do come out during the night to hunt for food.
Scientific Name: Didelphidae
Opossums not only help to keep the tick population down, but they also feed on other garden pests, including snails. These unusual-looking animals are scavengers too, meaning they will consume just about anything to help keep them going. This includes trash and carcasses.
Scientific Name: Serpentes
Snakes are another animal that is considered a primary predator of the snail. In fact, there are a wide array of snake species that prey on snails, including the common and non-venomous garter snake.
Scientific Name: Urodela
Salamanders are small lizards found throughout North and South America, as well as in Europe, Central America, and Asia. They will eat just about any snail they come across, including the apple snail, which is an invasive species that has caused extensive ecological and agricultural damage.
Scientific Name: Turdus merula
The beaks of blackbirds have the ability to break the snail’s shell so that the bird gains access to the fleshy part of the snail’s body. Additionally, blackbirds hunt for snails by using their beaks to find the snails hiding under leaves.
Scientific Name: Corvus
Crows are another bird that feeds on snails. In fact, crows are so good at spotting snails that they can see them from up to 40 feet away! Like the blackbird, crows use their powerful beaks to break open the snail’s shell.
Scientific Name: Erinaceinae
Hedgehogs are known for their ability to consume an abundance of garden pests, including snails and caterpillars. The European hedgehog is a common sight in gardens throughout Europe, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa.
12. Leopard Slugs
Scientific Name: Limax maximus
While they may not look like fierce predators, the leopard slug is actually one of the most common animals that eat snails. Additionally, these slugs are found in woodland areas and gardens all over the United States, which is also where you find slugs.
13. Wild Turkeys
Scientific Name: Meleagris gallopavo
Wild turkeys can be rather diverse when you consider their diet. Not only do they feed on wildflowers and acorns, but they will also consume snails, slugs, mice, and various other insects and small rodents.
Scientific Name: Bufonidae
While toads and frogs are two separate types of animals, they have many of the same characteristics, including the consumption of snails. Toads are also found worldwide, and you can often find them hunting down snails as a late night snack.