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Can Pet Turtles Eat Snails? (Can They Live Together?)

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Turtles and snails seem like two very different animals on the surface. However, they both have a soft body that is protected by a hard outer shell.

Snail riding on a turtle

But is this similarity enough to keep them in the same tank?  Would turtles eat snails if they had the chance?

We find out what turtles eat and whether snails and turtles can coexist peacefully.

Do Turtles Eat Snails?

Turtles eat a lot of things, including insects, plants, fish, small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even other turtles.

Yes, turtles do eat snails as well. They are part of a turtle’s natural diet.

Snails are mollusks, meaning they belong to the same group as clams, octopuses, squid, cuttlefish, and oysters.

Turtles also prefer to hunt their food, so snails are ideal because they are not very fast and can still provide the excitement of a slow hunt for the turtle.

Snails also make a great supplement for a turtle’s diet, which makes them very popular with your pet turtle.

In addition, some turtle species, such as musk turtles, eat more snails than others, and snails are a significant part of their diet.

Nutritional Value Of Snails For Turtles

Small snail on a small turtle

Snails have many nutritional benefits that make them an excellent choice for your pet turtle.

First, they contain high levels of protein, low in fat, and are rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, and chromium.

Second, they are packed with vitamins, especially vitamin B12, which is essential for healthy growth and development.

Third, they are a good source of fiber, making them easy to digest.

Fourth, they help prevent constipation by increasing water intake and helping keep the digestive tract clean.

How Many Snails Should You Feed Your Pet Turtle?

Although adult turtles enjoy snails with all their nutritional value, you mustn’t overfeed your turtle.

A wild turtle can choose carefully how many snails it eats. However, a captive turtle depends on its pet owner to feed it properly.

If you’re feeding your turtle snail bait, then you should only give them one snail every 3 to 4 days. This will ensure that your turtle gets enough nutrition without being overfed.

Risks Of Feeding Sails To Your Turtle

While snails are nutritious, there are some risks associated with giving them to your pet turtle. Here are a few of the risks and some precautions you can take when feeding your turtle snails.

Feed The Right Amount

The first risk is that if you give your turtle too much snail meat, you may cause kidney problems or liver damage.

Snail Parasites

Another problem is that snails can contain parasites that could harm your turtle. In particular, snails caught in the wild can be dangerous to your pet turtle.

Snails can contain parasites that cause lung flukes in turtles. This disease is fatal for your companion.

So, if you want to feed your pet turtle snails, be sure to use fresh snails and avoid any snails caught in the wild.

You will be able to purchase snails for your turtle from a good pet store.

You may be able to feed garden snails. However, they should not be exposed to any pesticides. As this is usually difficult to see, it’s best to be safe and buy them from a pet shop.

In addition, although it may seem obvious, you should never allow your pet turtle and snail to live in the same tank.

Your turtle will likely eat the snails anyway.

Can Snails And Turtles Live Together In The Same Tank?

Snail inside a tank

Turtles and snails cohabiting are likely not ending well for at least one of them. This also depends on the turtle species and what they naturally feed in.

Tortoises, like mud turtles, love snails, so they would make a short meal of them.

Generally, all carnivorous turtles are used to animal protein as part of a balanced meal, so they tend to eat snails.

However, as turtles get older, their nutritional requirements change, and they often start to eat more vegetables and fruit.

This may make snails a little safer, but it’s not a guarantee that the turtle won’t make an exception.

So, it can be possible to house both turtles and snails together in the same tank.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that turtles and snails will compete for food and space. If you put them together, they will need much more food.

If your turtle isn’t interested in snails, then putting snails in a turtle tank can be a good idea because they are omnivores.

This means that they do not only eat what the turtle eats, but they also devour any leftovers. This keeps the turtle tank clean and tidy.

Some snail species, such as apple snails, also tend to eat algae which is ideal for keeping the tank clean for longer.

However, it doesn’t remove the necessity for a filter or regular cleaning.

How To Keep Turtles And Snails Together

If you want to keep your pet turtle together with snails, then there are several things you can do to improve the chances of survival for your snails.

Provide A Large Living Space

To keep turtles and snails together, you’ll need to ensure that they have enough room to move around.

The more animals you keep in a tank, the more room they will need.

Make Introductions

It’s important to introduce your new pets slowly and carefully. When you’re ready to introduce your turtles and snails together into the same tank, separate them first.

Put the turtles in a different tank than the snails. They don’t need to be too far apart. You could even use two tanks if you prefer.

Then, start by introducing just one or two snails into the tank and leave them alone for a few days.

Then add another snail and repeat until you’ve introduced all of them.

Create Hiding Places

Snails and turtles are very similar in their need for safety and security.

They want to feel safe, and when you are sharing a tank with so many companions, then providing plenty of hiding places, like plants or decorations, is essential.

One way to help identify your pets is to create hiding places. For example, you could place some logs or rocks in the tank to provide plenty of hiding places for both snails and turtles to hide.

Keep Water Clean

As you are keeping more animals in your tank, you should understand that they also create more mess.

This is the reason why keeping water clean is essential when keeping turtles and snails together.

Clean the tank regularly and remove any debris from the bottom. You should also check the water level every day.

Choose The Right Snails

Larger snails have a much higher chance of survival than smaller species. Therefore, choose larger snails for your tank.

Apple snails are great choices because they are easy to care for, and they also eat algae.

These types of snails are usually available at pet stores.

Give Them Enough Food

As mentioned above, turtles and snails have similar diets, and with more mouths to feed in your tank, you will need to ensure that there is plenty of food for everyone.

Observe Your Turtle

As you are keeping a potential food source in your turtle’s tank, you need to carefully observe your pet to make sure that it doesn’t eat the snails and that it doesn’t contract any diseases.

Turtles can get sick easily, especially if they are kept in captivity.

Therefore, you should always take note of how your turtle behaves and what it eats.

Which Turtle Species Eats Snails?

There are a lot of different turtle species out there, but only a handful of these eat snails.

Some of the most common ones include:

  • Red-eared slider
  • Green sea turtle
  • Chinese softshell turtle
  • Box turtle
  • Yellow-bellied turtle
  • Aquatic turtle
  • Mud turtle

Which Snail Species Are Best To Feed Your Turtle?

Turtles aren’t too picky when it comes to the type of snail they eat.

However, certain species are better suited for feeding your turtle.

The best choice would be apple snails. These snails are easy to keep, and they also eat algae, which helps clean the water.

But you can also feed your turtle pond snails, Nerite snails, mystery snails as well as garden snails.


Keeping turtles and snails together is an interesting combination. However, it requires a lot of patience and commitment to ensure the safety of both your turtle and the snails.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Turtles Eat Slugs?

Yes, they can. Similar to snails, slugs are a natural supplement for a turtle’s diet, so a turtle does enjoy eating slugs.

Can Turtles Eat Snail Shells?

No, they cannot. Turtles do not chew on snail shells as they are hard and difficult to digest for a turtle. They may nibble on them, but they don’t consume them.

What Is Common Between Snail And Tortoise?

Both turtles and snails have soft bodies that are protected by hard shells. Snails are part of the mollusk family, while tortoises are reptiles.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.