How Long Can Snails Go Without Food? A Short Guide

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How long can snails go without food? The answer is dependent on a host of factors, but we can tell you that it is between a few weeks to a year.

Find out how long these shelled animals can do without food, the factors that influence this and many more shocking facts about them. Read our article for more answers.


  • How Long Can Snails Go Without Food in the Wild?
  • How Long Can Snails Survive Without Food in Captivity?
  • Why Is Your Snail Refusing To Eat Food?
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Conclusion

How Long Can Snails Go Without Food in the Wild?

Snails can go without food for eight to 10 months in the wild when they hibernate. Some species like Lanistes nyassanus have been known to go without food for up to a year! Scientists believe that the long lifespan of these snails has a role to play in this phenomenon.

To an extent, how long your snails can do without food in the wild varies from species to species. Itching to get an answer to “how long can giant African land snails go without food?” The answer is one month.

The lifespan of the snail aside, another reason that these shelled species can survive for long without food in the wild is their metabolism. They can store foods for a long time in their bodies and slow down their metabolism so that they conserve their energy in unfavorable conditions.

How Long Can Snails Survive Without Food in Captivity?

Snails can survive without food for two weeks in captivity. However, experts advise that you feed your snails at least twice a day with food that they can finish in four minutes or less. You should include a blend of green leaves, live plants, fruits and vegetables into their diet.

Why Is Your Snail Refusing To Eat Food?

Your snail is refusing to eat food due to reasons such as extreme temperatures, breeding behavior and incompatible tank mates. These reasons may not necessarily be a red flag or a cause for alarm. However, if your snail is not eating due to a disease, that could be worrying.

– They Are Trying to Acclimatize

It is absolutely normal for pet snails not to eat when they are trying to acclimatize to a new tank. So, don’t let it bother you. Give them time (four days to two weeks) to adjust to their new surroundings, and in no time, they’ll start eating again.

We recommend that you float the snails in the bags they came in for about 30 minutes to allow them to acclimatize to the temperature in the new tank. After that, you can take out the snails from the bag and toss them into the new tank.

– Extreme Temperature Conditions

During cold conditions and rainy days, freshwater snails go into hibernation in a bid to escape the cold world. During this time, their metabolism slows down to allow them to conserve the little energy they have, and they stop eating. That is part of the reason why they eat a lot during the warmer months – to store up food that will help them get through the cold winter.

The same thing happens during summer when the heat rises to unbearable levels, just that this time, they enter into aestivation to conserve their body fluids. They secrete thick mucus that seals their opening (think of it as their pores).

That way, they can effectively regulate the intensity of heat entering their body and prevent their organs from drying out.

Once the snails withdraw into their shells and seal them off, they enter into a deep sleep. The sleep can last anywhere from eight months to one year. To prevent this, you can keep the tank water between 65 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (the ideal temperature for many snails). That way, their metabolism remains constant, and they can eat and thrive.

– Calcium Deficiency

Snails need calcium for their shell development. So, when they don’t get enough calcium, their bodies start to function abnormally, and they begin to lose weight and appetite and may often fail to respond to external stimuli. The result could be dead snails.

Thus, it is important that you carefully select their diet so that it contains the required amount of calcium they need. We recommend feeding them with eggshells since they contain an ample amount of much-needed calcium.

– Predators or Incompatible Tankmates

Keeping your snail eating regularly can be hindered if you keep it with incompatible snail tank mates. This will only make these shy animals retreat into their shell and even stop eating.

Thus, if you want to raise your snail in a community tank (tank with other aquatic species), then ensure the other species are peaceful and share similar tank requirements.

Housing them in a tank with aggressive species will make the snail ill at ease and go into hiding. Because they fear for their lives, they’d often stop eating altogether and remain in the sanctuary of their shells.

We recommend that you pair them up with tame freshwater species like rasboras, honey gourami, neon tetras, bamboo shrimps, ghost shrimp and Amano shrimp. Better still, you can introduce other snails like Ramshorn snails, trumpet snails, nerite snails and ivory snails to their tank.

– Breeding

We have also observed that snails stop eating completely when they are mating or when the water conditions are bad. This is more pronounced in the middle of June. While this is weird, it shouldn’t cause you sleeplessness. Once they lay their eggs, they’ll start gobbling down their food again.

– Disease

Another thing that can make your snail stop eating is disease. Sadly, there are a lot of diseases that can affect this aquatic animal, and most can prove fatal if proper care and treatment are not given immediately.

Common snail diseases include Centrocestus formosanus, one of the biggest health challenges that plague snails. It is caused by a foodborne parasitic worm. Snails are also hit hard by parasitic lungworms that can be transmitted to humans if care is not taken.

This illness is hard to treat, so we advise that you isolate affected snails to prevent it from spreading in the tank. Be sure to contact your local veterinary doctor once you notice signs of this sickness.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How Long Can Mystery Snails Survive Without Food?

Mystery snails can survive without food for over one week. During this period, they will make do with available food in their tank like biofilm, vegetation and algae, which is great since they will be helping you to reduce the waste in the tank.

However, because these aquatic snails are active eaters i.e. snails eat whatever they see, we recommend that you feed them as much food as they can finish in three minutes. That way, they can grow and thrive. So how long can mystery snails go without food? About a week or two, but it’s not recommended to leave them without food for that long.

– How Long Can Spike-Topped Apple Snails Survive Without Food?

Spike-topped apple snails found can survive for several weeks without food. Their ability to do without eating works in your favor in rare cases where there is food scarcity. However, we don’t recommend starving your snails just to test their limit.

– Can Nerite Snails Survive Without Food for a Few Days?

Nerite snails can go without food for a few days and sometimes even longer than that. They can actually live for weeks and, in some cases, up to eight months without food when the water parameters are okay. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t feed your nerite snail daily.

That’s because, in captivity, aquarium snails such as these require regular feeding and may starve if other tank mates are outcompeting them for food or there is insufficient algae supply in the tank. So, ensure that they have enough food.

So “how long can nerite snails go without food?” may be an interesting question, but the real answer is that snails shouldn’t go without food for longer than necessary.

But what do snails eat? They enjoy fresh vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, leaves, algae and even green beans. You can also drop in some algae wafers as a treat for them.

– How Long Can Garden Snails Go Without Eating?

Garden snails can survive for two to eight weeks without eating. They will retreat into their shells in a bid to conserve the food they have stored up. However, we recommend that you feed them regularly to ensure that these snails thrive.

However, “how long can garden snails go without food” may be the wrong question, as even if these snails can survive without food, they should never be starved. Lucky for you, these snails will eat anything they see, and for such little creatures, they sure do eat a lot!

– How Long Will Trumpet Snails Survive Without Food?

Trumpet snails will survive for weeks without food. They can dig through the tank substrate in search of food. They eat up uneaten fish food, organic matter and debris in the tank. They’re not picky, so they probably won’t starve if you forget to feed them for a few days.

Since their diet is largely composed of plant matter, algae, and organic debris, there is no fear of them becoming malnourished. However, that is not to say that you should overlook their diet.

They need a good deal of calcium to form their hard protective shell and they eat a lot! It seems like they are forever munching on something.

Knowing how much these tropical snails love to eat (they can eat up to four percent of their body weight in a day), you’re probably not going to worry too much about what to feed them.


Snails can survive without food for as long as a year when the conditions are not favorable. This is usually around winter (hibernation) or summer (aestivation). Here’s a recap of what we discussed in this article.

  • Depending on the species of snail, they can go without food for weeks, months, or even a year.
  • It is normal for snails to stop eating when they are breeding.
  • However, breeding season aside, your snail may refuse to eat if it feels threatened, lacks calcium, or is sick.
  • Regardless of its ability to go for long periods without food, you should feed your snail regularly.

We hope this article has helped you understand how long your snail can survive without food and when to be worried about your snail refusing to eat. Do let us know if there is any other thing you’d like to know about your aquatic pets.

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