Are Snails Dangerous?

Snails are classified as pests to gardeners, and they can be very dangerous for plants. However, we’re also going to look at if they are dangerous to humans or any other animals and if precautions need to be taken when removing them.

The Quick Answer

Snails are dangerous to plants but they can also be dangerous to humans too. There is a possibility that they contain worms that can be passed onto humans.

How are Snails Dangerous to Plants?

First of all, let’s look at where they cause the most damage. The most noticeable sign of snails in your garden will be from the damage your plants have taken. If your plants have been damaged by snails then you will likely see various holes in their leaves, stalks, and flowers, depending on the specific plants.

It is also possible that they will begin wilting and begin to turn yellow in colour as a result of the damage by these snails.

So, snails cause damage to plants, but why? It’s because plants are the main component of a snail’s diet. At least, that is the case for most land snails which includes the common garden snail, the species of snail that you are most likely to find in your garden.

These snails are also not picky, they will cause damage to most species of plants that are in your garden, including fruit and vegetable plants.

Snail Eating Plant

How to Protect Plants from Dangerous Snails

Knowing that snails cause the biggest threat to plants, it is natural to want to protect them from these garden pests. You should not use slug pellets because they cause serious damage to the environment and other garden wildlife.

Thankfully for us, gardeners have tried and tested many different natural ways of repelling snails and keeping your plants safe. Here is a short list of some things you can do to drive snails away:

Use Rough Terrain

Because of the fact that snails travel along their body, certain terrains are difficult for them to cross. These terrains include gravel, slate and mulch, all of these terrains can stick to the body of a snail and be used in your garden.

They will avoid crossing these terrains as they are uncomfortable due to the hard and cold surfaces. They can also sometimes harm them due to small and sharp edges.

Putting pieces of gravel, slate or mulch, on top of the soil of disturbed plants will drive snails away because snails are self-preserving and will simply move on to find other sources of food rather than risk harming themselves.

Plant Repellent Flowers 

A nice way to keep snails away is to simply plant things that they dislike. You can either plant pots of repellent plants around your garden or intersperse repellent plants in flower beds that you want to keep safe from snails.

The reason for a snail’s dislike of certain plants is because of their smell or their textures. These are some plants that will help you to keep those snails away, you can use lavender, rosemary and geraniums.

Use Coffee Grounds

Snails dislike the smell of coffee and its caffeine content. Sprinkling used coffee grounds on top of the soil will keep your garden fragrant with the smell of coffee, making it unappealing to snails, and also slugs.

When the coffee comes into contact with the soil, it caffeinates the soil and snails do not like to cross this, meaning that they will be driven away from these areas of soil.

Snails are actually quite hardy creatures, so the best way to keep them from your garden is to use a combination of these repellent methods. Or alternatively, change your methods every once in a while so that the snails don’t get used to the setup.

Are Snails Dangerous to Humans?

If you are squeamish, you may find it very difficult to deal with snails, but regardless, it is important to know if these pests pose a threat to us humans. Whilst snails are eaten in France as a delicacy, you should under no circumstances try to cook any snails that you find in your garden.

There is a small possibility that they contain worms that can be passed on to us humans if consumed.

It is for this reason that you also need to take precautions when removing snails or gathering produce that has been touched by snails. You should wear gloves if you are removing the snails in your garden by hand.

Make sure to wash your hands after coming into contact with a snail, or in turn touching flowers or crops that have been eaten by snails. Some may say that this is over precautious, as the likelihood of contracting worms from snails is still quite low. But this is definitely one of those cases in which it is better to be safe than sorry.

Make sure to warn your children not to play with any snails, or slugs that you see in the garden, and try to remove them as quickly as possible.

Are Snails Poisonous or Venomous?

Common garden snails are not poisonous nor are they venomous. This means that they are not toxic to humans either through their consumption or their bites. That being said, the main danger with snails is that they can pass on parasites through contact.

The most dangerous and common parasite that snails carry is lungworm. So, whilst the snails themselves are not poisonous or venomous, they do risk some serious illness to humans so you should always take the necessary precautions when dealing with them.

Are Snails Dangerous to Dogs?

Sadly, snails are very dangerous to dogs.

Like with humans, a dog can contract lungworm from consuming a snail or a slug and this can be quickly fatal. It is important to keep your eye on your dog when they are roaming in your garden, especially if you have reason to believe that you may have a snail infestation.

If you think your dog has eaten a snail or a slug, then you should take them to the vet so that they can be checked for lungworm. Once again, this is a situation where you want to err on the side of caution.

Cats can also contract lungworm from slugs and snails, but they are less likely to eat one than a dog. However, due to their roaming nature, it can be difficult to tell if they have eaten one.

Be sure to keep an eye out for any of these symptoms of lungworm in both your dog and your cat. Take them to the vet immediately if you see your pet has difficulty breathing, has rapidly lost weight or is frequently vomiting.

Summary

Snails are very dangerous to plants and the parasites they carry can be dangerous to humans and pets. Snails cause damage to plants because they eat large amounts of them, you can drive snails away from your plants by using coffee or difficult terrain such as gravel.

Snails can carry lungworm, which can be passed on to humans or other animals if they are consumed. Take your pet to a vet if you think that they have eaten a snail.

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