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How to Find and Catch a Garden Snail

Livingsta is a writer who focuses on anything that fascinates, provokes or interests her. She always puts forth her best efforts and focus.

A garden snail feeding on mahonia fruits.

A garden snail feeding on mahonia fruits.

Wondering Where to Find Snails?

The garden snail (Helix aspersa) is a species of edible land snail largely considered to be a pest in the garden and in general to agriculture. It is a native of the Mediterranean area and Western Europe but can be found in many areas all over the world—it is believed to have been spread accidentally or deliberately by humans.

A Closer Look at the Garden Snail

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Genus: Helix
  • Family: Helicidae

An adult garden snail has a hard but thin calcareous shell which is 25–40 mm in diameter and 25–35 mm high. It can contain four to five whorls.

Garden snails can have different shades. The most common ones found in the garden are dark brown or chestnut colour with yellow colour stripes. The body of the snail is soft and slimy.

When touched or hibernating, the snail retracts its body into the shell. When active, the head and foot of the snail emerge out of the shell. It has two pairs of tentacles, one long pair with eyes (for seeing) and other pair small (for smelling), and the mouth is located beneath the tentacles. These snails secrete slimy fluid called mucus while moving, so that friction is reduced between the snail and the surface on which they move.

Garden snails are herbivorous and feed on plants, trees, vegetable crops and flowers in the garden. They are eaten by many other animals that live on land, for example other terrestrial snails, birds, lizards, frogs, etc.

A Quick Look at Different Kinds of Snails

A Quick Look at Different Kinds of Snails

How to Find Garden Snails

Garden snails are nocturnal, although they can be found during the daytime after the rain. They can be found usually in parks and gardens at night under rotten pieces of wood or wet boards that lie on the floor. You can find them on hedgerows, marshes, woodlands, pond margins and garden furniture. You can also see them under piles of leaves and sticks that lie in the same place all through the winter. Also in the garden, turn over pots and stones on a wet surface to find garden snails. You can see them in cracks and crevices and other fixtures in the garden.

If it rains during the day, you can see them moving on plants or anything that is above the wet soil. During winter, it is difficult to find them, as they hibernate due to extreme temperatures and this state is called estivation.

Look for Snail Trails

An easier way to look for a snail is when you see a snail trail. A snail trail is a shiny slimy line across surfaces where the snail has moved. You can look for these snail trails under leaves and not-too-exposed areas.

Once you find a trail, try to follow it. If the trail has ended and you have not found the snail, it might be because it has climbed over something and gone away, so try another trail. When you have found your snail, your next step is catching it.

If you spot a snail trail, follow it and you'll most likely find the snail that made it.

If you spot a snail trail, follow it and you'll most likely find the snail that made it.

Catching a Garden Snail

Catch the snail by its shell so that you do not touch the slimy mucus. Garden snails usually leave the substrate and often retract themselves into their shells.

You can take the snail to a wet area, as they love to be in places where there is moisture, and enjoy watching them crawl and their other features. If you decide to keep a snail as a pet, you need to find out how to care for that specific species of snail and then start growing them.

Garden snails can move at the speed of 55 yards per hour, making them the fastest species of snail.

Garden snails can move at the speed of 55 yards per hour, making them the fastest species of snail.

Interesting Facts About Snails

  • Snails are very slow-moving creatures, and they are not brainless as many people think.
  • Many species of snails hibernate during colder months to escape the extremely cold temperatures and also sometimes in summer to escape drought. During this time, they live on the fat stored in their body.
  • Garden snails can move at the speed of 55 yards per hour, making them the fastest species of snail.
  • Salt and sugar can kill snails.
  • Snails are hermaphrodites.
  • Their eyesight is very faint and they cannot hear.
  • They do not like bright light.
  • The largest snail found weighed 2 pounds and was 15 inches long.
  • Snails can live up to a maximum of 15 years depending upon the species.
  • Snails travel in circles rather than following a straight line.
  • Garden snails are believed to have evolved from sea snails 600 million years ago.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can you take a garden snail in as a pet?

Answer: Yes, you can, and the garden snails are the ones most people have as pets. Be careful to maintain the right temperature, and to clean the large tank or terrarium (whatever you use as the snails' home) often!


someone on May 24, 2020:

haven't found one yet but still trying :(

Simon Griffiths on April 25, 2019:

Hi Nancy. Sounds like a story and it's pretty much the same way as most people start keeping snails. By accident. Your snail is very lucky indeed that you had a ready-made terrarium just waiting for him although I would suggest he needs a friend. Snails are very sociable animals and their life expectancy is more than halved when kept alone.

After keeping snails for 20+ years I also decided to write a book on them,, imaginatively titled... The Garden Snail.

Nancy Auclair on April 07, 2019:

I found a garden snail, in April, at a North Dakota Home Depot store, when it fell off a succulent plant. The plants were from a Minnesota greenhouse where it surely would have been considered a troublesome pest. It seemed barely alive until I placed it on a wet paper towel whereupon it fully emerged and raced around. Having an established moss terrarium at home, I knew I could provide it with a safe home. With the introduction of a creature, a terrarium becomes a vivarium. Mine is a large, square jar, with removable lid. Often, the snail can be seen upside down on the glass. Amongst the various moss species, I tucked a jar lid with fresh water. I included finely crushed egg shells for calcium to strengthen his shell. The snail provides carbon dioxide for the plants, while the plants provide oxygen for the snail, therefore sealing the jar does not harm the snail.The first night, I placed a square inch of damp lettuce on the moss. By the next morning it had been devowered. After life among the dry succulents, this snail is living the good life in a moist habitat with a variety of vegetables and fruit. Our first night as snail and human co-incided with a coincidental tv showing of the animated movie, Turbo, about a racing snail. To those of us who have found our way to livingsta's den garden article on snails, I recommend the book, Sound of a Wild Snail Eatting, by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. As a non-fiction book, it is the winner of three presigious book awards. I highly recommend it.

Bubba on April 07, 2019:

How long do you keep a garden snail to make them like super huge

Bekah Ray on March 08, 2019:

@Kingsley Samuel

Do you touch them often? Maybe the salt in your skin is hurting them.

Simon Griffiths on January 09, 2019:

Snails are fantastic creatures and the Garden snail (C Aspersum) is perhaps the most entertaining of all. If you do keep them as pets please remember that they do need good ventilation. I have known people keep them in containers with lids that provide insufficient ventilation and that only results in your snail's death. Also, feed them on a varied diet, they don't just eat lettuce! It's also wise to purchase a water spray bottle and mist your tank/ vivarium several times a day to keep it moist (not wet).

Kingsley Samuel on September 17, 2018:

My snails are dying pls help me

Niculae on August 07, 2018:

I found one yesterday and his name is Alex and he try toate escape onest

Lily on July 07, 2018:

I have no plants with snail bites and no signs of snails. I also have no wood planks on my yard how can I find a snail now?

Becky on May 17, 2018:

I have a garden with no grass, I cant find a snail

Evi on May 06, 2018:

I found a garden snail and I named it Gary. My snail has not been trying to escape thankfully. Thanks for all the information.

freya on March 22, 2018:

I cant find a snail anywhere

elias on February 26, 2018:

This is very useful but I still can't find one in my garden

Gema on October 26, 2017:

Does anyone know how to find large snails? The snails in Texas are tiny...

Lynne on September 17, 2017:

I have 7 snails and I keep them in a plastic container I can't get dirt from the store can I get the dirt from where I found them at (my garden) or can I use anything that doesn't cost money?

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on September 07, 2017:

Hi Lill3,

Thank you for checking out and commenting.

So far, I have only seen the freshwater snails sold online on ebay and mollusc stores. But there is something called snail4you if you want to check out. I am not sure of what they sell and how they deliver. You can maybe do a quick search or contact them and find out :)

Amber on August 19, 2017:

Thanks so much I can't wait to find a garden snail I love snails now they are so cute ❤

Lill3 from CHICAGO, ILLINOIS USA on April 30, 2017:

As usual this has been a very informative article about garden snails. Thank you, so much for providing this service.

Do you know where I can purchase pet garden snails online?



Lill3 from CHICAGO, ILLINOIS USA on April 16, 2017:

Thank you, for article on garden snails. Your article was very informative.

I plan to become a garden snail pet parent, as soon as I can purchase a couple.


lill3 on April 16, 2017:

Thank you, for article on garden snails. Your article has been very informative.

I am looking forward to being a pet garden snail parent, as soon as I can find or buy a couple.


Jaydeman on January 27, 2017:

Thank you for telling me this I cannot wait to find a garden snail in the summer time.

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on August 24, 2016:

Hello Kittykat, thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. From your experience, what I understand is, maybe you are looking at a variety of smaller snails that look like baby snails? Just assuming!

kittykat on June 30, 2016:

HI.... I have found tiny baby snails in my yard in moss that grows on the north side of my house. I have never seen an adult snail and I have been out in my yard trying to get rid of the slugs. Can anyone tell me why I have never seen an adult snail or where I can look to find the adults ??

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on March 22, 2016:

Aww, Naya liatv, I am hoping that you have found a snail by now!!! How exciting?!

Did you know that snails are hermaphrodites? According to, not all snails are hermaphrodites, however a majority of the snails are. This is found among land snails and most marine snails. The only snails that are currently known to have not adapted this feature are some freshwater and marine species such as the Apple snail and the Periwinkle snail.

Hope this helps when you name your little pet :-)

Naya liatv on March 15, 2016:

I really want A snail so we have thought of names boy name stiches and the girl name is ocean

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on January 04, 2016:

Hello Janelle, thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. I love snails too. I think they are really cute and are very important to our ecosystem as they play a very important role out there!

Janelle on June 13, 2015:

Very informative i recently started loveing snails and find them quite cute and intresting cant wait to find one :)

Snail lover on February 14, 2015:

I love my snail it's so cute

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on January 07, 2013:

Thank you so much L.L.Woodard. I am glad you enjoyed it. Snails are interesting to watch and so are the butterflies and dragonflies. I understand how you feel! Thank you so much for your appreciation, votes and shares!

L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on January 04, 2013:

When I read the title to this hub, I was intrigued as to why someone would be interested enough to look for a garden snail. After reading your information, I was taken back to childhood days when I could spend long afternoons watching snails, butterflies and even dragonflies. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Great hub; voted up and Shared.

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on December 22, 2012:

Hi Sweetie, I totally understand how you feel! Thank you for reading, sharing and your votes :-)

sweetie1 from India on December 21, 2012:

Hi livingsta,

Very nice hub and though you have told very interesting facts about snails but it would take a king's army to force me to eat them. But very nice hub.sharing and voting up.

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on December 19, 2012:

Thank you for reading DDE. Snails are fun to watch :-)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 19, 2012:

An interesting and insightful Hub about the garden snail, I often watch them in my garden leaving their trails

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on December 09, 2012:

Thank you Om, I love snails too. I used to have loads in my little fish tank years before. It is so interesting to watch them, and their life cycle. Never tasted them though! Thank you for reading and commenting!

Om Paramapoonya on December 09, 2012:

Hey, nice hub! Most of my friends think snails are not that lovely and would crinkle their nose at the thought of eating snails. I think they're cute, though. I also had a snail dish once. Kind of chewy. I prefer watching them to eating them!

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on November 23, 2012:

Thank you for passing by Bigjessy. That picture was shot after a rain one early morning, and I saw these beautiful little creatures crawling over this mahonia plant, looked like they were feeding on the fruits.

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on November 17, 2012:

Thank you for reading and commenting teaches12345. The snails that I see in the garden are very tiny, and I remember seeing quite a huge one while walking along a hedge row one dark evening last year, still searching for the picture and will post it when found! I need to take a picture of the trail anytime soon as I see one. They rarely come out. I get to see them only after a rain.

Dianna Mendez on November 15, 2012:

My hubby will eat these creatures, I prefer to watch them as they make their slow progress across the yard. We do see them on occasion here, some are pretty big. You have posted a very interesting article and very well done. Will have to watch for these trails when I am out back.