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Snail Vs Slug: What’s The Distinction?

Up to now, we’ve coated whether or not a snail is an insect. There, we mentioned gastropods, their behaviors, habitats, and their pretty shells, which typically aren’t a welcome sight amongst gardeners. Nevertheless, one factor we have to talk about is the distinction between snails and slugs. Snail vs slug – what’s that each one about?

There are some things to consider inside this explicit subject. As an illustration, are there variations in measurement? Are the shells the identical amongst snails and slugs? We all know there are land snails and freshwater snails. However are there distinct habitat variations between most snails and slug species?

We’ve decided that they each have that abdomen foot – bear in mind they belong to the category Gastropoda which comes from the Greek phrases gastros (abdomen) and poús (foot). They’re each elements of the phylum Mollusca. We all know they’ve the power to utterly destroy gardens rapidly. Slugs and snails are very delicate, slow-moving animals and so they have many related options. 

Amongst all these frequent options it appears troublesome to inform these pests aside. Right here, we’ll parse out the important thing variations between these two slow-moving creatures.  

What’s a Slug?

Slugs have an inside shell hidden inside their our bodies. Supply: AlexandreRoux01

Let’s begin with a fast run-down of fundamental snail and slug options. So what’s a slug? Slugs are gastropod mollusks (like snails) however they don’t have an exterior shell. They stay in locations just like snails, in areas which are darkish and moist. They love consuming vegetation and vegetation. Typically they eat bugs. They go away a path of slimy mucus identical to snails. They’ve a muscular foot, with epithelial cilia that help in motion, and slender tentacles that sit atop their heads and across the mouth. 

What’s a Snail?

Snail shells may be fairly fairly. Supply: fdecomite

You would possibly already know {that a} snail is quite a bit like a slug. However one most important distinction is the snail’s shell that’s carried on its again. They’re gastropod mollusks identical to slugs. Their houses are darkish, dank, and stuffed with foliage and bugs to munch on. They too have a slimy path indicating the place they’ve been. They usually have related anatomy to slugs within the type of the muscular foot and slender tentacles the place they see and eat. 

What’s the Distinction?

Snail vs slug
When evaluating snail vs slug, there are similarities in addition to variations. Supply: me’nthedogs

Each snails and slugs have related options. They’ve two pairs of tentacles and a fleshy foot. And each slugs and snails have related behaviors. They’re each gastropod mollusk members, and so they each have shells. However listed here are just a few methods to inform them aside. 


Scientifically, snails and slugs have completely different classifications. Sure, they’re each within the mollusk phylum and the gastropod class. However these mollusks are categorised underneath completely different suborders. As an illustration, the snail falls underneath superorders of Neritimorpha, Caenogstropoda, and Heterobranchia. The slug, nevertheless, falls underneath Orthurethra and Sigmurethra. Every superorder has completely different subfamilies and superfamilies inside them. 

You would possibly surprise how classification has any bearing on the variations between snails and slugs. Know that taxonomy is predicated on key divergent traits and habits. Let’s speak about these.


Slug, snail – it’s all the identical, proper? On the subject of behaviors, not so. Snail species spend their lives in quest of meals. So, they don’t have common sleep cycles. In actual fact, they sleep on and off for intervals of 13 to fifteen hours. Wild snails then awake from their slumber. They then come out of their hiding locations and use all their vitality for the subsequent 30 hours in quest of vitamins. After they sleep, they loosen up their muscular foot and retract their tentacles barely. If it’s not moist sufficient, snails have a survival benefit of their skill to sleep for 3 years! In damp areas, they tackle a extra common sleeping/waking schedule. 

The slug however is nocturnal. That’s why they’re so arduous to regulate in gardens and that’s why you received’t discover slugs on the bottom through the day. They wait till nightfall to make their manner out of hiding locations to feed on vegetation. And whereas they do share a few of the similar weight loss program as their snail cousins, many slugs feed solely on vegetation. There are just a few key species which have advanced to eat bugs, however most slugs give attention to plant matter as a most important supply of vitamins, in a basic sense. 


Each slugs and snails stay in related situations. However snails are typically way more versatile of their habitats. You most likely already know in regards to the land snail, however do you know there are sea snails, metropolis snails, desert snails, and wetland snails? They’ll stay underneath the earth, in timber, and underneath leaves like a slug. Snail species are very specialised in response to the environments they’ve advanced inside. Freshwater snails stay in water (like sea snails) but in addition on river banks. You would possibly even discover them in your aquarium consuming vegetation. Land snails stay in moist forest flooring, but in addition deep underneath the desert sand. As a result of they’re tender, they hibernate in winter and proliferate in spring. 

Then again, slugs belong mainly in cool, darkish, moist areas. There simply aren’t slugs present in deserts or inside residing timber, as snails could be. Slugs choose a extra particular area of interest by way of their total distribution. They’re additionally extra selective about seasons. A slug likes to feed on vegetation when it’s heat, particularly in spring and early summer season. That may make you assume slugs and snails share winter behaviors. Nevertheless, that’s not the case. A slug doesn’t hibernate as snails do. They overwinter. To guard their inside organs within the harsh chilly, they burrow and stay beneath floor the place it’s heat within the grownup stage. Typically they die earlier than winter comes, and their eggs stay beneath the soil floor the place child slugs hatch and emerge in spring. 


There’s an enormous (albeit arduous to see) distinction between the way in which snails and slugs transfer. The snail’s tempo is predicated on the foot that should utterly retract to ensure that any motion to happen. Snails need to make lots of motion to get the place they wish to go. With waves of contraction and leisure, land snails navigate the expanse burning lots of energy. 

A slug strikes at a gradual and exacting tempo. They maneuver way more than snails to get the place they should go. As an alternative of compressing the foot, they use their toes to decide on which course to go. A slug is quicker than snails, although. Snail mail is named simply that for a motive. Snails transfer at one millimeter per second, on common. Slugs transfer at completely different speeds relying on the species. 


Snail crossing crack
The foot of a snail can simply bridge cracks or gaps. Supply: eliduke

The shell is the main target of divergence between these two animals. After we consider mollusks, we consider the shell they carry by way of life. Most gastropods have a shell, too. The snail is identifiable by the big exterior shell it carries on its again. This protecting shell permits a snail to utterly retract inside if it comes into contact with sharp objects or predators. A snail is born with no shell. As child snails feed and develop, their mantles (or the developmental sacs on their dorsal area) retailer calcium. Then the middle of the shell spiral kinds, and progress happens outward in a clockwise spiral. The exterior shell is absolutely shaped in maturity, and calcium carbonate storage solely serves to thicken the shell at this level. When the outer shell of a snail is full, snails can mate. 

Do you know that technically each slugs and snails have a shell? That is one factor that solidifies their place within the gastropod mollusk classification. The distinction between a slug shell and a snail shell is that slugs have a small inside shell. Their coiled shells are made from the identical materials and are additionally meant to retailer calcium, identical to that of the snail. However the slug has what’s referred to as a decreased shell or an inside vestigial shell. It’s nonetheless a coiled shell just like the snail’s, however it’s an inside shell fairly than exterior. As an alternative of defending the slug (snail shells are primarily for protection), the coiled shell helps slugs retain vitamins. 

This key distinction is one motive you’ll discover snails within the human weight loss program, however not slugs. Inner shells make consuming slugs troublesome. 


Slugs and snails have completely different lifespans too. A wild slug tends to stay anyplace from 1 to six years, whereas a wild snail lives from 2 to three years. In captivity, a snail can stay to be 10 to fifteen years outdated. That’s so long as the household canine! A slug in captivity received’t have as a lot divergence in its lifespan as a snail would. Slugs and snails have these completely different lifespans primarily based on habitat and habits.  


Slugs and snails have divergent traits in terms of measurement too. On common a snail can attain 10 inches lengthy. Slugs attain a imply size of 15 inches. Nevertheless, there’s extra variation in measurement between slugs and snails than the typical would recommend. The big black slug, as an example, solely reaches 2.5 centimeters in size as an grownup. Australia is residence to the biggest snail on earth, referred to as the enormous whelk. This marine snail has a shell that’s 28 inches lengthy. That’s simply the shell! Banana slugs are the largest slug in North America and prime out at 8 inches lengthy. In case you’ve ever seen them come out at nightfall, you already know they’re a sight to see. 

A Phrase on the Slug and the Snail as Pests

Banana slug
The banana slug may be completely huge. Supply: megankhines

Slugs and snails have quite a bit in frequent. However so far as animals go, the slug and the snail aren’t the identical. Figuring out the distinction helps you establish the perfect management for pests in your backyard, and pests like slugs can simply take out a plant very quickly. While you management these pests, measure the traits we mentioned right here to see for those who can inform the distinction. Use specialised controls both for slug or snail. That manner you don’t do ecological harm to at least one or the opposite.

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