Can Snails Feel Pain?

One of the common pests found in a garden is the common snail. An immediate reaction that many gardeners make is to kill them. But can snails feel pain? And is killing them actually cruel?

Snails can feel pain but not in the same manner as humans and other mammals can.

It is a popular opinion that snails do not feel pain because they do not have a traditional brain. However, this does not mean that these animals do not feel any sensation.

Snails do not have a neocortex, but they still feel the sensation of pain and damage being inflicted on them. Snails know that what they are feeling is negative and then try to react accordingly.

Do Snails Feel Physical Pain?

Pain is an important part of life because it enables us to understand any harmful situations that may come our way. Animals that have a traditional nervous system will feel pain the same way as humans.

The pain triggers the animals and causes them to react. This might involve crying out, running away, clutching the wound and so on.

In the case of less complex animals like snails, pain is a learning experience for them. The pain helps snails realise which situation to avoid. It alerts the snails and encourages them to stay away. This is why many snails are deterred by copper, for example.

Do Snails Feel Pain When Salted?

Many people use salt against snails. Salt works by absorbing the moisture from snails. Moisture is important for snails as it helps them glide through your garden. When snails lose all their moisture, they cannot move.

When you pour salt on a snail, you will see it squirming. This is because the snail feels a great deal of discomfort. Using salt to kill snails, therefore, is often seen as inhumane. There are better humane ways you can apply to kill snails. 

Using salt is not the best option. Salt can have drawbacks within your garden as it can increase the salinity in the soil. There is also a chance for wind or rain to wash away any salt you may pour.

Do Snails Have Pain Receptors?

Snails and other molluscs have an opioid receptor system responsible for pain and pleasure. Therefore, snails do feel some level of pain, although not in the same manner as humans or other mammals. 

Do Snails Feel Pain When Their Shell Breaks?

A snail’s shell is an important part of its body. Snails are born with shells, and they are attached to them. As snails mature, the shell grows with its size. If you step on such an important part of the snail’s body, they will feel pain. 

If the shell suffers grave damage, it can cause the snail to die. The shell protects the snail from losing moisture and protects its soft body.

How To Deal With Snails Humanely

If you are a gardener, you know the importance of keeping it safe from snail damage. However, there are many methods that are cruel and can cause pain to snails.

As important as it is to keep your garden safe from snail damage, you also need to ensure that you do not cause them too much pain. There are several ways you can avoid this and get rid of snails as humanely as possible:


One simple way to tackle snails is to handpick them from your plants. This method is effective, especially if you are dealing with a few snails. You will probably want to use gloves if you do not like the feeling of slimy, sticky snails.

The time of the day in which you gather snails is important. It would be best if you waited until it was the evening or early morning so that the snails come out from their hiding places. You can collect all the snails and then discard them in whichever way you deem better. 


This is not a method to kill snails but to keep them away from your plants. One of the ways you can tackle snails is by repelling them. There are certain smells that slugs do not like including coffee.

By sprinkling coffee in your garden, you will create a barrier against snails and other insects. 

You also do not have to worry about causing damage to plants. Coffee is good for the soil as it improves its nutritional content.

How to Get Rid of Snails With Coffee


Other than coffee, you can keep snails away effectively by using garlic. Garlic works well because of its powerful smell. Despite being so strong, it does not harm your plants.

You can use fresh garlic in your garden by chopping it up and leaving the pieces around your plants. It’s a good idea to crush the garlic a little and bruise it so that it releases oils and juices. 

You can also create a garlic spray by boiling some in water. This can be convenient as you can spray the plants and any place you spot snails. However, you need to be consistent with the process to see results. 


Although snails do not have a traditional brain, they can still feel pain. One of the reasons why people assume that snails may not feel pain is because they do not have a brain like humans and other mammals.

However, these animals have a nervous system that allows them to feel things. If an animal does not feel pain, it will not know how to avoid harmful situations.

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