I have a pet garden snail who is fully grown, but still not very big. Sometimes I need to move my snail around for one reason or another, like for cage cleaning. But I'm afraid to pick snails up, because I'm afraid I might hurt them if I just try to pull them off whatever they're stuck to!

Usually, I try to put something tasty in front of my snail and wait for them to crawl onto it, so I can pick up the food and the snail along with it. But sometimes it backfires, and my snail sits there eating for half an hour without ever climbing onto the food itself. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes quite a while before my snail crawls onto something I can move!

Is there a way to pick up a garden snail without hurting them?

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  • I have three tiny little garden snails and i pick them up by the shell all the time and they seem completely fine
    – user17602
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 6:17

7 Answers 7


As a child I've always picked up snails by their shell. No matter if it were small snails or burgundy snails.

Their houses are sturdy enough that you wont crush them when you pick them up, just apply enough pressure to safely grab it. Use as many fingers as you can so the pressure is distributed evenly.

A snails foot is well protected by the mucus on it.

They also secrete mucus from the foot to aid in locomotion by reducing friction, and to help reduce the risk of mechanical injury from sharp objects, meaning they can crawl over a sharp edge like a straight razor and not be injured.

As long as you are careful and don't rip the snail away from the surface, you should be safe lifting the it slowly. As soon as you gently pull it, it should let go of whatever it foot attached to or if it is too light, light a small twig, you will lift that, too.

Another way is to touch the snails antennas. This usually makes the snail retract into her shell which makes picking it up even easier. Of course you have to be careful not to hurt the snail.


The best way I find to pick up my snail is by wetting a popsicle stick and putting it underneath his head. You can be somewhat forceful with it. You can wiggle it underneath their bodies and they will slowly crawl up onto it and it allows you to move them around. I also use his cuttlebone. It works great. I use my fingers and let them crawl onto it as long as my hand is sprayed down and moist. So far I haven't had any troubles.


Don't pick up a snail by their shell, as I have done with one and she came out way too far and she died so either slide food under them / wait for them to crawl onto it or touch their face and slide them off Hope this helped!


I have the same fear! I put a bunch of water on mine, and she usually goes into her shell, or really, just be patient and slowly scoop your snail up. Pulling too fast could hurt it, you're right.


I pick up snails you just have to do it gently. If you pull a little and they don't lift off let go! Wait try again later. Don't do it too many times or they will foam up and urinate. Your snail isn't always going to want to do what so you have to be patient.


I have 3 snails. I always pick them up by the shell. Sometimes I have to pull. It doesn't hurt them though.

If you want them tamed, just be with them and do the things you want them to be confident in doing, they will be well trained to do these things if you keep training them for about 3 days. I hope this was helpful.


I have 4 snails 2 big 1 medium and 1 super small. I pick up my small one no problem and the medium one isn't that hard but the two big ones are Hard!

One of them won't even budge when I put water on him or feed him. So I just have to wait until he feels like it. But the other one is OK.