We all know snails as annoying garden pests that spoil and damage our plants. As gardeners, you may be fully aware of the plants and vegetables that snails love to eat. However, it would also be helpful if you knew what eats snails.
Several animals eat snails, including lizards, hedgehogs, frogs, toads and many common garden birds. They have an extensive list of predators with no way to defend themselves.
One of the best ways to reduce the snail population in your garden is by introducing natural predators. It’s not harmful to the environment, it’s cheap, and it’s effective.
There are many ways to keep snails away from gardens. However, most revolve around using chemicals that can harm the environment. Slug pellets are incredibly damaging, for example.
It is best to resort to natural ways, preferably those which have no impact on your garden. Encouraging predators is, by far, the most natural way to deal with snails in the garden.
So, What Eats Snails?
Encouraging diversity in your garden is important as it helps restore balance in nature. Of course, to do so, you must know which animals to attract so you can prepare your garden accordingly.
Below, you can find our full list of snail predators:
One of the animals which like to consume snails is a lizard. Lizards have no trouble consuming snails and will actively hunt them at night when they come out. These reptiles will eat not only snails but also their eggs.
Perhaps the hedgehog is the most common predator of snails we know about.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they come out at night when snails are more prevalent. Hedgehogs are a gardener’s best friend and love to consume snails.
It would help if you made your garden more attractive to hedgehogs. You can leave out food for these animals to ensure they visit. It would help to open passageways in your garden to let hedgehogs in.
Moreover, building nesting spots for hedgehogs would be a good option as most of them are looking for places to rest during the night.
Like hedgehogs, shrews will eat snails, but they are aggressive eaters. While hedgehogs may consume smaller snails, shrews will also contribute by eating larger snails.
Don’t worry, a shrew might be small in size, but that won’t stop them from crunching their way through a snail’s shell and demolishing the snail.
There are some species of predatory snails. These snails are carnivorous and do not eat vegetation like garden snails. However, predatory snails will feed on other snails and actively hunt them.
Many gardeners like to use snails to their advantage. These gardeners will release carnivorous snails to ensure that the garden snail population remains under control.
Some predatory snails include rosy wolf snail, devil’s coach horse and brown garden snails.
Some mammals which like to consume snails include birds. However, birds are not nocturnal and will not hunt snails during the nighttime as they are asleep.
On the other hand, birds will consume snails they find during the daytime.
Some birds have special adaptations that help them hunt snails and eat them. Whether they will consume snails depends largely on whether they are found in water or land.
Most birds will not actively hunt snails but are opportunistic predators. This means birds will not give up an opportunity to attack snails if they find them out during the day.
Many birds eat snails, including blackbirds, robins, bluebirds, and starlings.
Larger birds can consume larger snails; small birds can only eat smaller ones. However, some smaller birds consume larger snails by smashing them against a wall or the ground to break the shell.
Some large birds which consume snails include ravens, crows, and blue jays.
There are nocturnal birds too, which like to eat snails. For instance, owls will also hunt snails during the night.
Frogs and Toads
The amphibians who like to consume snails include frogs and toads. Many gardeners like having a garden pond to encourage frogs and toads.
Other than snails, these amphibians will also help control the slug population in your garden. Frogs and toads will consume whole snails, including the shells which break down in their bodies.
What Else Eats Snails?
We’ve covered the main snail predators in the list above but this is far from exhaustive; there are other animals you might come across in the garden that may or may not eat snails:
Yes, rabbits will eat snails if they come across them. They’ll usually enjoy a diet of grass and plant matter,, but if the opportunity arises for them to eat a snail, they will.
Squirrels prefer a nut and seed-rich diet and usually avoid eating other animals. But they are omnivores, and if food is scarce or they’re really hungry, they will eat snails too.
Rats are scavengers that will eat just about anything. Their diet can include snails even if they’re not at the top of a rat’s list.
You will be glad to hear that snails have a lot of predators. You can control the snail population in your garden by introducing these predators.
Some animals that feed on snails include reptiles like lizards and snakes. In addition, one of the common mammals which feed on snails is hedgehogs. Some birds also feed on snails they find during the daytime, like songbirds.
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Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden