Food for Garden Snails

Written by gemma argent
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Food for Garden Snails
The garden snail likes a variety of food types. (snail image by João Freitas from Fotolia.com)

Garden snails are considered a pest by most gardeners because of their ability to damage and destroy garden plants. Snails are mollusks in the gastropod class. The common garden snail is the Helix aspersa. These snails are found in most countries, including European nations, North and South America and Australia. Even though the snail is thought of as a pest, it can be eaten as escargot.

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Digestive System

A garden snail, believe it or not, has thousands of very small teeth on its long, thick tongue that looks similar to a ribbon. Snails use their teeth to tear off bits of food just like most animals. Once a snail swallows some food, the food goes into a crop, which is a storage area where the salivary glands are found. The food then moves into two organs called the digestive caeca. The stomach is found in between the two caeca and is an expansion of the crop. From the stomach are the intestines.

Vegetable food

Snails are not too picky when it comes to eating vegetables, especially when the plants are young and juicy. Some favourite plants are artichokes, turnips, celery, beans, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower. Snails will also eat tomatoes, especially ripe ones.

Grains

Snails can cause widespread devastation to grain and cereal crops like oats, wheat or barley. Because snails primarily feed at night, it's difficult for farmers to catch them in the act, meaning farmers might not realise the damage until it is too late.

Flowers

Snails eat a variety of flowers, which can create a problem for gardeners. Some flower varieties on the snail's menu include zinnia, verbena, phlox, carnation, aster, alyssum, pansy, petunia, dahlia, nasturtium and dianthus. There are many more flowers that snails will eat as well. Surrounding flower gardens with copper wire or strips may help deter them as the copper will give the snail a slight electric shock due to the mucus the snail produces.

Fruit and Shrubs

Snails will climb up fruit trees or shrubs to get to a food source. They will also readily eat any fallen fruit. To discourage snails, dispose of all fallen fruit. Snails will eat apples, peaches, plums, apricots and any citrus fruit, including oranges. They also eat shrubs like roses, magnolias and hibiscus plants.

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