Can Snails Get High From Smoke?

Can Snails Get High From Smoke

Can Snails Get High From Smoke?

As we delve deeper into improving the well-being of our pet snails, many questions emerge. For instance, is it safe to smoke a cigarette in the same room as your snails? Some also wonder about the implications of burning scented candles or incense in spaces shared with their snails. Can such exposure to smoke affect snails?

Snails cannot get high from smoke in the same way humans do. However, nicotine, a primary cigarette component, affects a snail’s brain, causing heightened excitability. Farmers have even used nicotine-rich tobacco dust to deter snails from crops. However, prolonged exposure might affect a snail.

When you smoke a cigarette, you might feel its effects due to its chemical content. This article explores whether snails experience similar effects when exposed to smoke nearby. 

The Potential Impact of Nicotine on a Snail’s Brain

Smoking introduces nicotine into the human system, which primarily affects the brain. Nicotine activates certain receptors in the brain that influence neurotransmitters, causing excitatory reactions

In layman’s terms, smoking can induce heightened focus and excitement. Many smokers assert that they attain unparalleled concentration when they light up. This is a basic illustration of how nicotine from cigarettes impacts our brains. 

For snails to experience comparable effects, they need similar neurological structures to humans. However, snails’ brains are vastly different. They possess only two primary brain cells that drive essential survival decisions. One cell signals hunger to the snail, while the other indicates the presence of food.

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Given snails’ limited eyesight, they rely more on sensory perception than visual searches for food. These two cells provide clues about snail behavior and its potential response to nicotine exposure. 

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Recent scientific research has shed some light on this matter. Researchers discovered evidence suggesting nicotine can influence certain cells in a snail’s brain (source). The study specifically examined the excitatory response of snails’ cholinoceptive cells to nicotine. 

The findings revealed that the snails’ D-cells became active upon detecting nicotine. Additionally, the research identified dose-dependent depolarization and decreased input resistance in snails post-nicotine exposure.

Using Snails to Monitor Air Pollution in a Russian Waterworks Company

The potential for smoke to affect snails is evident in the innovative approach taken by a Russian water company. They didn’t just theorize about the effects; they put it into practice using snails as live pollution sensors. 

A Russian waterworks company employed six giant African snails as air pollution detectors. With air pollution posing significant concerns, particularly for industrial operations believed to contribute to global warming, this initiative was a proactive measure to assess the environmental impact of the company’s sewage incinerators.

The snails were equipped with monitoring devices. One set of monitors tracked changes in the snails’ heart rates as they were exposed to smoke from the incineration plant. Another set observed behavioral alterations post-exposure. 

While the idea of utilizing living organisms like snails in such experiments might seem unconventional, it aligns with a long-standing tradition in scientific research. Over the years, humans, too, have been subjects of experiments, notably in drug trials, to determine therapeutic efficacy.

That said, it’s essential to approach such experiments with snails, or any living beings, with a strong ethical framework—just as we would with human participants.

The Curious Case of a Slug and a Cigarette Butt

A peculiar video surfaced online, capturing a slug savoring an unlikely treat: a cigarette butt. While the video might not have achieved the viral status its creator had hoped for, it does provoke intrigue about snails’ potential affinity for tobacco. 

The video captures the slug, an omnivore known to consume various items, including paper, eagerly gnawing on the discarded cigarette end. Unfortunately, the recording cuts off before revealing any potential intoxicating effects on the slug from the residual tobacco within the cigarette butt.

Morgan Jackson, a university student, humorously remarked that discerning a slug’s intoxication is challenging since they often appear “stoned” in their usual demeanor. 

Interestingly, farmers and gardeners have employed tobacco powder to deter slugs and snails, aiming to protect their crops. Some studies even suggest that tobacco dust can be lethal to these mollusks.

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The potent agent in tobacco dust is nicotine, which ironically attracts slugs and snails only to lead them to their demise. The toxicity of nicotine from tobacco dust is so potent that it can exterminate snails and slugs in under three days.


While there’s no concrete proof that snails become intoxicated from cigarette smoke, evidence suggests that nicotine, a primary cigarette component, impacts a snail’s brain. The nicotine can induce heightened excitability in snails, making them dose-dependent.

This effect has led farmers to use tobacco dust to attract and deter snails and slugs from their crops, often resulting in the creatures’ death. If you’re a smoker and have a pet snail, it’s worth considering that cigarette smoke might pose a risk to its well-being.



  • Paul Odoteh

    Paul Odoteh is an established writer and editor with nearly 10 years of experience in writing and editing. He holds a bachelor's degree in IT and has written for numerous publications and individuals. Currently, Odoteh is dedicated to expanding his blog,, which was inspired by his passion for owning an aquarium.

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