Snails are quite often seen in the day, but they seem to feed primarily at night, which has made people wonder are snails nocturnal? With so many species of snails, there are differences in their daily patterns, but we’re going to look at if snails are nocturnal and what this might mean for you and your garden.
Are Garden Snails Nocturnal?
Almost all species of land snails are nocturnal, which means that they are awake and active during the night. This includes the common garden snail, the most common snail and one of the most notorious garden pests you will find in your garden.
As these snails are nocturnal, that means that you need to make sure that your plants are protected before you go to bed, as they will come out at night to try to find sources of food.
Do Snails Come Out During the Day?
Even though snails are nocturnal, they can come out in the daytime. They may be forced to do so, or some will come out during daylight if it has been raining and the ground is wet.
That being said, they don’t actually like the sunlight and will therefore avoid coming out in the daytime if they can. Some snails will coat their shell with a kind of special mucus epiphragm to protect themselves from the sunlight.
This mucus helps to keep moisture inside the snail and to protect it from attack from other invertebrates.
Are Snails More Active at Night?
Snails are far more active during the night than they are during the day. This is why they are referred to as being nocturnal. They are often active during the early hours of the morning, too, when there is moisture in the air.
Where Do Snails Sleep?
Snails do retract into their shells when they are resting. There are even some species of snail that enter into hibernation. Many species of snail enter a state of inactivity, it is similar to hibernation, but it is not quite as extreme.
During this state, they also cover themselves in the same mucus, epiphragm, whilst they are sleeping. Hibernation and inactivity in snails do not occur in every species, and it takes place over the winter months.
After their hibernation, they will re-emerge in the spring months where they are incredibly hungry.
Snails do not make a nest to sleep or hibernate in, they will usually use what is available in their surrounding environment. Most land snails, including common garden snails, usually find their place to sleep on the leaf of a plant.
Snails quite often sleep upside down as well. And by this, we mean they will sleep on the underside of a leaf with their body retracted into their shell and their shell facing the ground.
How to Protect Plants Overnight
With snails being most active at night, the hours in which you are sleeping are the hours that snails are going to be most likely having a tasty snack on your plants.
There are easy ways to set up your plant pots and bedding so that they are safe from snails. Here is a list of some ideas to keep your plants safe.
Encourage Natural Predators
Encouraging natural snail predators to come into your garden is a great way of keeping the slug population down.
One example of a snail predator is the hedgehog. These creatures will not become pests in your garden but will help to keep the population of snails down so they do not bother your plants.
You can encourage hedgehogs by having a suitable shelter set up for them in your garden. This is also a good thing to do because hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they will be able to eat the snails before they do anything to your plants.
Use Difficult Terrains
Snails have trouble crossing certain types of terrains as they can be uncomfortable and also quite harmful to the invertebrates. If the grass does not cover your whole garden, then you can surround the border with substances that snails will not cross.
One example of difficult terrain you can use is gravel. Most different types of gravel work to deter snails. Snails will not cross gravel because the small stones are cold and uncomfortable, and their sharp edges can damage them.
Surrounding your grass with gravel will keep both snails and slugs from travelling into the area.
To summarise, most species of snails are nocturnal and will avoid coming out in the daytime unless it has rained.
Snails will sleep on the undersides of leaves and rocks, and some species of snails will go into a status of hibernation or inactivity over the winter months.
To keep snails from eating your plants overnight, you should encourage natural nocturnal predators into your garden and surround your plants with gravel.