Is My Garden Snail Dead?

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Garden snails can't live outside their shell.
Garden snails can't live outside their shell. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Snails are hardy creatures. Once they infest a garden, eradicating them is challenging. Some people keep garden snails as pets, or come across a seemingly dead garden snail in their garden and wonder if they should remove it or whether it’s dead at all. There are some signs that a garden snail is dead.

Causes

Pesticides and some garden chemicals kill snails. Cold weather kills them if they are not hibernating. Predators prey on them. Predators like birds may eat the snail and leave an empty shell, which appears to be a dead snail. People step on snails when they emerge during a rain.

Identification

Because some garden snails are so small, it can be difficult to tell if a garden snail is dead. Dead snails often have an unpleasant smell. Most snails cannot live outside their shell. If the snail appears to have no shell or its shell is crushed, it is likely dead.

Misconceptions

Many garden snail species have a plug at their shell’s base that acts as a seal when they are inside. Sometimes when this trapdoor is closed, people may assume the snail is dead because it has not moved or come out in days. However, only live snails can create this trapdoor in their shell, and so the snail is alive. Snails hibernate throughout the winter and appear dead. When hibernating, garden snails form a plug at the entrance to their shell and do not emerge for months.

Prevention

Garden snails are considered pests in some areas because they damage plants. Many gardeners use pesticides or will pick snails off their plants. To prevent dead garden snails, don't use pesticides in your garden or anywhere in your yard. Avoid walking through the garden after the rain so you don't accidentally crush garden snails and relocate garden them to safety.

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