Gastropod predators are everywhere, at least that have to be how it looks when you room a snail or a slug. That then is it the is out there eating all these helpless snails. For some species, one prize is of course people. Humans consume large numbers that gastropods native all 3 of your habitats; terrestrial, freshwater and also marine.

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What animals eat snails?

Why would certainly anyone, or anything, eat slimy slugs and also snails is a question many people may ask. The price is no that they are delicious, although a huge number of people experienced this as true; this is since most animals are far an ext practical in your food selections than we people are.

For every the myriad other creatures that eat slugs and also snails, the prize is the they are highly nutritious. Snails contain more protein 보다 many varieties of fish and also loads of various other nutrients including vitamin B12. However, slugs and also snails have actually even more going because that them 보다 mere nutritional goodness. Lock come in fairly small. Often bite-sized packages, they are often numerous in every little thing habitat friend live in and also they space usually slow and also easy to catch. What much more could a hungry predator asking for?

What else eats gastropods then normally depends on wherein they, the being-eaten gastropods, live. In terrestrial habitats slugs and snails are food because that both creatures larger and also smaller than themselves. Predators of land snails include beetles and also their larvae, millipedes, flies and also their larvae, mites, nematodes, spiders, shrews, mice, squirrels, and also other tiny mammals.

Salamanders, toads and also turtles as well as many soil foraging birds are additionally happy come eat big numbers of gastropods. In aquatic habitats snails are easily devoured through birds, reptiles, amphibians and also fish and by a hold of maritime invertebrates indigenous Octopuses v annelid worms and starfish to various other gastropods again. However, what might surprise you is that one of the most regular gastropod predators in marine habitats, as well as less commonly in terrestrial habitats, are other gastropods.

Invertebrates together Gastropod Predators

Terrestrial Habitats
A Carabid soil Beetle, Calosoma sycophanta

The floor beetles, (Coleoptera; Carabidae), and fireflies (Coleoptera; Lampyridae) are committed gastropod predators and also most species eat only terrestrial gastropods. Other full-time snail eaters encompass the beautiful household of flies Sciomyzidae (Diptera), typically these are known as swamp Flies, or, Snail Killling Flies. Sciomyzidae just feed on snails in your larval stage, the adults just drink nectar, but their larvae food on both freshwater and also terrestrial types of snails.

Despite what Bristowe believed in his wonderful publication The Comity of Spiders 1941, snails are not constantly immune to strike from spiders. The new Zealand Funnel-web Spider (Porrhothele antipodiana) routinely kills and also eats snails, it might spend many hours feeding off the human body of the snail. Other spiders which are well-known to food on snails include The Cobweb Spider Cryptachaea (Archaearanea) veruculata and Paraembolides boycei.

Other arachnids are likewise known to kill and also eat snails, amongst the impressive Opilionids Ischyropsalis hellwigi is a varieties that has actually a definite taste for uncooked escargot.

Freshwater Habitats

In fresh water habitats, such together lakes and also rivers crabs are the main invertebrate predators the snails. The freshwater purple Matano Crab Syntripsa matannensis and the White-claw Sulewesi Crab Syntripsa flavichela are classed as molluscivores. Using their substantial and powerful claws the break open up the shells of snails and also bivalves prior to eating the flesh.

Marine Habitats

In marine settings predation starts for many species as soon as the eggs space released right into the water to end up being fertilized. These eggs, and also the trochophore and veliger larvae float in the seas in vast numbers. These pelagic stages of the gastropod lifestyle as such become component of the zooplankton and also are voraciously fed on by plankton feeders such has herring, sardines and anchovies (both various species), shad, silversides, sprats and menhaden.

One that the main teams of predators because that adult maritime gastropods space starfish, specifically the genus Pisaster has been studied. Apart kind starfish other predators that routinely feed on maritime gastropods encompass larger gastropods, conches in particular, and octopuses.

Predation of gastropods by octopuses has been studied because that the typical Octopus Octopus vulgaris. The octopus, having selected its prey drills a hole right into the preys shell, climate excretes saliva into the borehole and also later uses its radula again to extract the flesh.

Various varieties of whelks, which are predatory gastropods, likewise feed by drilling a hole into their prey’s shell. Favor the typical Octopus they likewise feed top top Bivalves and other sedentary Molluscs, as well as their other marine snails

The Florida rock crabs (Menippe mercenaria) feeds ~ above a range of molluscs consisting of marine snails. Crabs are likewise important snail predators in other marine habitats, native the sea coast to deep s hydrothermal vents.

Horn shark (Heterodontus francisci)

Fish as Gastropod Predators

A big number the fish will feed ~ above snails and also some species seem to yes, really love eating them. Various types of rays, such as the beautiful Xingu flow stingray (Potamotrygon leopoldi) love to eat snails. Prefer all durophagous fish, they have special adaptations of their teeth and also jay muscles to allow them to address such tough shelled animals.

Marine Habitats

In maritime habitats few species it seems to be ~ to be snail specialists. However a variety of species regularly incorporate snails in their diet, these encompass Puffer Fish such together Porcupine Puffer Fish, Dog-faced Puffer Fish and various Wrasses. Two circumtropical spiny puffer species, Diodon holacanthus and also Diodon hystrix, are considered to be crucial predators top top gastropods, consisting of snails and also were offered in experiment of snail defenses against predation by shell crushing fish.

Many types of rays, particularly those in the family Myliobatidae, food on gastropods using strong teeth come crush the shells. There are likewise a couple of species the sharks such together Horn Sharks that will feed on limpets and some Chimeras (Holocephali) will certainly happily encompass gastropods in their day-to-day diet. Scientists think that the heavy, frequently spiny shells of maritime gastropods evolved straight in an answer to predation by light ray sharks and crabs.

Freshwater Habitats

There are fairly a few species the freshwater fish that are connoisseurs the snails, these include species of: Loaches, Gouramis, Catfish, Sharks and Puffer Fish. Particular varieties that will eat gastropods additionally include: Tench (Tinca tinca), Roach (Rutilus rutilus). The Lungfish, Protopterus annectens, and also some varieties of the family members Mochokidae and also Tetraodontidae,

The black Carp Mylopharyngodon piceus has been used as a organic control agent versus freshwater snails in Israel.

The accordingly named Shellcracker Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus), is an avid devourer the freshwater snails. There are also many cichlids such as Alluaud’s Haplo (Astatoreochromis alluaudi) and Green Beam (Sargochromis mellandi) from southern Africa, Trematocranus placodon and several other varieties of cichlids indigenous Lake Malawi and also some 20 assorted species of the genus Haplochromis from Lake Victoria that on regular basis eat snails.

Finally, Aquarists regularly keep tiny species the Botia in your aquariums since they do such a great job of managing snails. Larger types of Botia additionally feed avidly on snails. Another little fish the is happy come eat snails are species of Gambusia. Generally renowned for feeding ~ above mosquito larvae, research study has presented that at least six different types happily dine ~ above snails together well.

Asian Open-billed Stork (Anastomus oscitans)

Birds together Gastopod Predators

Many types of birds are happy to gain snails for supper. Those birds best known for their taste in escargot include, ducks, corvids, herons, egrets, storks, raptors, thrushes and also owls. While plenty of birds feeding on snails once they have the right to do so quickly only a couple of have become devoted gastropodivores. Most birds take only snails the are small enough for them come eat whole, or for them cracked the shells with their beaks. For countless birds snails are vital dietary complement in the run-up to the reproduction season as they offer, not just a good source protein however also, if eaten whole, calcium, i beg your pardon they must make their shells.

Ducks, including an especially mallards (Anas platyrhyncos) (note that Indian runner Ducks space a subspecies that Anas platyrhynchos) , wood ducks (Aix sponsa) and also ruddy ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis), every thoroughly gain a an excellent breakfast, lunch and supper of snails. Each other of Anas platyrhynchos are such ardent gastropod predators that recently they are provided as an environmentally friendly an approach of managing snails from locations as far apart as southern African Vineyards to eastern rice paddies. Below is a lovely video clip of the duck military employed by the Vergenoegd short Wine heritage in southern Africa.

Birds That specialization in Snail Suppers

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)

Most well known of the professional gastropodivores is the European song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) due to the fact that of its habit of making use of a prominent rock as an anvil to smash large snails on. However in south America the Snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) feeds nearly exclusively on to apologize Snails (Pomacea sp.). A third group that avian snail specialist are the open up billed storks.

The genus Anastomus seems to have evolved in the old world as specialist gastropod predators concentrating on fresh water snails that the genus Pila, (African and Asian apologize Snails). But recent research studies have displayed that Anastomus oscitans, the eastern Open-billed Stork, has actually taken to feeding ~ above the invasive south American to apologize Snails of the genus Pomacea. Regrettably they have tendency to feed preferentially top top the largest specimens, leaving the young alone. When this is a an excellent strategy because that them, as it ensures an continuous food supply, it makes them ineffective together a regulate agent for this very invasive team of species.

As a short aside, the gap in the bill of Open-bill storks does not permit them come crack open up the snails shells, together many people suppose. Fairly it causes the advice of their bills to be more directed towards each other, which presumably provides grasping the snails body easier. Open-bill Storks feeding by making use of the tips of their bills to extract the snail’s human body from that is shell.

Finally, a quite unusual bird, since it is the only species in it family, the Aramidae, do in monotypic is the Limpkin (Aramus guarauna). This is a tiny to medium rail-like bird native America, that feeds nearly entirely on apple snails.

Reptiles as Gastropod Predators

Many reptiles are happy to enjoy slugs and snails as part of a carnivorous diet concentrated on small invertebrates. This is an especially true the lizards in the skink household (Scincidae) such together the Australian Blue Tongue Lizards of the genus Tiliqua.

Other reptiles that like to munch down on snails (freshwater snails in this case) encompass Snapping Turtles. The bigger species, such as Macrochelys temminckii include any type of snails they uncover in their diet when they room young and smaller than complete adult size. Other carnivorous terrapins will also eat new water snails if they gain the opportunity.

Some reptiles are much more than adventitious snail eaters, lock have become specialists, making snails, either terrestrial or freshwater the mainstay of their diet. In Australia, Hemisphaeriodon (Cyclodomorphus) gerrardii is commonly called the Pink Tongue, or Snail eat Lizard.

Among the tortoises and also turtles there space three dedicated gastropodivores indigenous Asia in the genus Malayemys. The first two the these room the Malay Snail-eating Turtle and the Mekong Snail-eating Turtle. The third of the trio, the Khorat Snail-eating tortoise (Malayemys khoratensis), to be only discovered in 2016 and also soon uncovered itself in ~ the center of a taxonomic controversy. It seems two different scientists defined the brand-new species, giving it different names, at the exact same time. Their documents were released within job of every other. Succeeding investigation carried to light the murkier waters of tiny scale clinical publication.

Snakes together Gastropod Predators

Snakes that specialization in eating snails are an ext common, through at the very least 75 species known approximately the world. Yet as in ~ least five of those to be only discovered this decade there might be an ext waiting to it is in recognized. Snail eating snakes room usually small to medium sized by line standards varying from 30cm come 150 cms in length.

In southern Asia, consisting of Thailand and also The Philippines, there space at least 15 snail eating experts in the genus Pareas, such together The Keeled slug-eating snake (Pareas carinatus), whereas in Africa you may uncover the typical Slug-eater (Duberria lutrix) amongst other delightfully called species.

In south American the genus Dipsas includes 35+ types of thoroughly devoted gastropod predators They range in size from the Temporal Snail-Eater (Dipsas temporalis) at around 40 cms in length to Palmer’s Snail-Eater (Dipsas palmeri) which have the right to reach virtually 1.3 meters.

All snail-eating snakes have actually long fragile teeth; those at the front of the upper jaw are supplied to seize the body of a snail, climate the reduced jaw is prolonged forward and the reduced teeth are provided to traction the hapless snail indigenous the security of its shell home.

Hedgehog, Erinaceus concolor

Mammals together Gastropod Predators

Many species of mammals are either carnivores or omnivores, for instances most wild types of hogs/pigs. Such animals, while not highly focused gastropod predators, will certainly happily consume snails as a part of their very varied diet.


While we humans (Homo sapiens), well some of us, favor our snails cooked through plenty that garlic and butter, various other mammals room happy to consume lock raw. Various monkeys such together Capuchins and also Vervet Monkeys, varieties that are omnivorous yet primarily fruit and also or sheet eaters, will certainly eat snails (as well together insects) at any time they uncover them. Baboons are likewise happy to gain a snail snack and also Chimpanzees indigenous DCR prefer to eat large African land Snails, who shells they crack open up with rocks.

However, monkeys (and humans) are not the just mammals come use devices to acquire at your favourite snail delicacies. Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) on numerous islands in southern Thailand have gained the habit of breaking open the shells of coastal snails and also oysters to gain at the meat inside. They’ve end up being such experienced shellfish hunters that they are actually threaten the visibility of the oysters and also snails one the little islands where they live.

Non-primate Mammals.

Among the countless medium-sized carnivorous and omnivorous mammals numerous regularly include snails in their diets. Possums and opossums, skunks and raccoons, badgers, foxes, martens and mongooses all encompass snails in their diet, but none of them specialize in snails.

Many that the smaller mammalian carnivores will additionally seek out and devous snails. These include shrews such as the northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda) and also American shrew mole (Neurotrichus gibbsii) too The coastline Mole (Scapanus orarius) and hedgehogs such the western European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) and The Southern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor) voraciously hunt live snails.

Finally various types of rats and also mice are additionally avid gastropod predators and also will eat snails whenever they get the opportunity. Rats have adhered to humanity around the world. End the last five hundred years they have reached virtually every secluded island about the globe. Numerous types extinctions are thought to have actually been caused, or abetted, by this voracious omnivores consisting of a number of species of snail.

Three various colour forms of (Chrysomallon squamiferum) the Scaly-foot Snail

How execute Gastropods protect Themselves?

With so plenty of gastropod predators around, every eagerly searching for a snail dinner exactly how do snails endure at all?

The most apparent defense the snails have is the course their shells. While the shells of terrestrial types are often fairly light weight, due to the fact that they fee the full impacts of gravity, those of marine types often greatly armoured and adorned through protective spikes and ridges. Countless fresh water types also have actually an operculum, a horny framework that deserve to be offered to seal the opening of the shell. Other creates of defense include energetic evasion and also passive hiding.

A many Amazing Gastropod Defence

One of the many impressive instances of defence advancement can be checked out in the Scaly-foot Snail (Chrysomallon squamiferum), additionally known as the Pangolin Snail. This rare and also unique gastropod has a three-layered shell, quite than the usual two layered shell. The extra, and also outer, great is substance composed mostly of iron-sulphide. It additionally has scales end its foot that the very same material. The key gastropod predators in the habitat are snail eating crabs, cone shells and also Turrid gastropods.

C. Squarmiferum is the just know pet in the human being to usage iron sulphide to create armour. This amazing snail is also unusual for having actually a very big heart, 4% of its body mass and also because the is a chemoautotroph. Together a chemoautotroph it derives every its nutrition (at the very least as one adult) indigenous endosymbioitic bacteria. Scaly-foot snails can be found approximately hydrothermal vents in the Indian Ocean, three various colour develops are well-known from three various localities.

Ragged Sea Hare (Bursatella leachii)

Defence in naval Species

For marine varieties passive hiding entails cryptic colouration and also choosing to invest the daylight ours concealed beneath rocks, detritus and fallen wood. Active evasion includes limpets and marine snails leave a tidal pool as soon as a starfish is inserted in it. More rapid escape activities such together flipping us over and burrowing deeper right into the substrate ~ above sensing a predator room seen in some species. Much like your terrestrial cousins some marine snails go in for protective mucous. Secreting a mucous that consists of a cocktail of chemicals designed to repel predators.

Many marine species seem extremely sensitized to chemical signs that details predators space near. In some experiments simply allowing water come drip turn off a predatory starfish into a tidal pool was enough to stimulate evasive in the snails and also limpets in the pool. One unexplained snail an answer to starfish predation is seen in the littoral maritime snails that the genus Natica. They draw their mantel over their shell on gift touched by one of the pipe feet that the starfish Asteria rubens. This renders it difficult for the starfishes tube feet to grasp organize of the snail.

Red-lined Flabellina (Coryphellina rubrolineata)

Nudibranchs, Reusing your Dinner’s Defences

Many nudibranchs feeding on types of stinging animals such as anemones and hydroids. These pets which are component of phylum Cnidaria which have actually evolved dedicated stinging cell to catch their own prey and to protect themselves. When a nudibranch, such as Coryphellina rubrolineata eats such an animal, that digestive system cleverly separates out the stinging cells without triggering them, climate stores castle in tentacles top top its back (these are dubbed cerata). Now the stinging nematocysts are under new management and anything that attacks the nudibranch then gets stung by those stolen weapons.

Chemical warfare Under The Waves

Many nudibranchs and also sea slug are likewise independently toxicity or have actually glands that deserve to secrete noxious chemicals when disturbed. Sea slug from the genus Elysia have actually white spots along their otherwise eco-friendly bodies that act in this way.

Sea Hares, such together the Ragged Sea Hare, Bursatella leachii secrete a noxious mixture that viscous white opaline and also purple dye once disturbed. These 2 chemicals are produced in separate glands and also then combined in the kaminsims cavity prior to being expelled.

Scientists have uncovered that this adheres to the antennae of predators such together lobsters dulling your senses. Different varieties of Sea Hare produce different chemicals in their ink. The main active ingredient that the ink produced by the California Sea Hare Aplysia californica, one L-amino acid oxidase, has been delightfully named ‘escapin’ through scientists.

Defense v Teamwork

Several types marine creatures consisting of the Keyhole Limpet Diodora aspera type a commensal partnership with the Banded scale Worm Arctonoe vittata.  If the limpet is struck by a starfish, together as Pisaster ochraceus, the scale worm defends its hold by attack the starfish, biting its tube feet. Reportedly this is usually successful in driving the predator away. Check out this short video.

See more: What Is The Type Of Bond Between Carbon, Hydrogen, And Oxygen Atoms In Organic Molecules?

Defense in Terrestrial Species

For terrestrial varieties defenses versus predators incorporate cryptic coloration, defense rubber production including irritating smells and also tastes; hiding behaviors, and rapid withdrawal and dislodging movements. Dislodging activities usually involve suddenly twisting motions of the body from next to side. Protective mucus is an especially favoured by slugs, perhaps because they have actually no shells. Defense rubber from slugs many likely consists of chemicals repellent come predators, if this has actually not to be well studied in terrestrial gastropods it has actually been proven for maritime snails.

Image Credits:- Limpkin by HblairH, Ragged Sea Hare by buy it Faulwetter – license CC BY-SA 4.0; Scaly-foot Snail by Chong Chen, Hedgehog by Tomaž Demšar – patent CC BY-SA 3.0; Cover image by Heinz Albers – license CC by 2.5; Horn Shark by Ed Bierman, Coryphellina rubrolineata through Christian Gloor – patent CC by 2.0; eastern Open-billed Stork through Shanmugam Saravanan – patent CC0 1.0