difference between snails and slugs

The Difference Between Snails and Slugs and Their Characteristics


Snails and slugs are common, slow-moving, and slimy creatures that belong to the mollusk family. However, despite their similarities, they have some key differences that make them distinguishable. Let’s explore these differences and find out what makes them unique.

Anatomy and Physical Characteristics:

The most noticeable difference between snails and slugs is their appearance. Snails have a hard, spiral-shaped shell that sits on top of their body. This shell provides protection from predators and environmental conditions. In contrast, slugs do not have any shells and their body is soft and slimy. They usually have a prominent mantle covering the body, which helps in trapping moisture.


Both snails and slugs move slowly due to the absence of any limbs. However, they move differently. Snails use their muscular foot to push and pull themselves forward while dragging their shell along. On the other hand, slugs undulate their body and use their mucus to slide on surfaces.

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Feeding Habits:

Snails are herbivores and feed on plants, fruits, and vegetables. They have a mouthpart called a radula, which helps in scraping off food from surfaces. Slugs also feed on plants, but they may also consume fungi, dead animals, and carrion. They use their mouthpart to suck food instead of scraping it off.

Environmental Adaptations:

Snails tend to be more adapted to drier environments due to their shell, which protects them from dehydration. In contrast, slugs prefer wet and humid environments, as they need moisture to survive. They also undergo aestivation, which is a form of hibernation during dry periods to conserve moisture.


In conclusion, snails and slugs are similar in many ways but have significant differences that set them apart. While snails have a shell and move using their muscular foot, slugs are shell-less and slide on their mucus trail. Snails prefer drier environments, while slugs thrive in moist areas. Understanding these differences can help you identify them in the garden and appreciate their unique characteristics.

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Table difference between snails and slugs

Attribute Snails Slugs
External appearance With a visible shell on their backs Have no visible shell
Mobility Generally slower due to the weight of their shells Generally faster and more mobile due to their lack of a shell
Habitat Found in both terrestrial and aquatic environments Found primarily in moist or wet environments
Diet Feed on a variety of plant matter, algae and fungi Feed on plant matter, fungi and carrion
Reproduction Lay eggs in moist environments Lay eggs in clusters buried in soil
Size Tend to be larger due to the presence of a shell Tend to be smaller due to the lack of a shell