How Long Do Snails Live?

How Long Do Snails Live

How Long Do Snails Live?

Curious minds exploring the world of aquatic life often find themselves pondering the lifespan of the seemingly unassuming snail. These tiny yet fascinating creatures, with their unique characteristics and roles in various ecosystems, invite us to uncover the secrets of their longevity. So, how long do snails live?  

Snails live for varying lengths of time, depending on the species. Aquarium snails usually live for 3 to 10 years. Garden snails are the largest and can live up to 10-15 years on average, and some can even live for up to 25 years if predators do not eat them.

I believe examining the lifecycle of snails can offer valuable insights into the factors determining their lifespan. So, let’s take a closer look!

A Snail’s Lifecycle

Although there are numerous species of snails, they all undergo the same four distinct life-cycle stages.

These stages are as follows:

  • The egg
  • The baby
  • The adolescent
  • The adult

Before we look at the different life-cycle stages, I wanted to share an in-depth article on snail reproduction. Reading this piece will give you a better understanding of the factors influencing a snail’s lifespan.

The Egg Stage

During the egg stage, snails exhibit unique characteristics that make them fascinating creatures.

As hermaphrodites, snails have both male and female reproductive organs. During mating, they transfer sperm to each other’s bodies to fertilize their eggs. These eggs are only laid after fertilization.

When it comes to laying their eggs, snails are quite meticulous. The process involves:

  1. Searching for a soft spot on the ground.
  2. Digging a shallow hole.
  3. Depositing the eggs.

Although an average snail lays about a hundred eggs, some may lay up to 400 eggs, as there is no guarantee that all of them will hatch and survive.

The Baby Snail

Once the snail eggs have been buried in the ground for about two weeks, they are ready to hatch. The eggs will open, and the miniature versions of adult snails will emerge.

These baby snails have tiny, almost translucent shells that should be strong enough to protect them as they venture into the world.

More about snail shells: read this interesting article on Are Snails Born with Shells?

After emerging from the egg, baby snails will feed on the remnants of their eggshells, which are rich in calcium. This calcium helps strengthen their shells, which are essential for survival.

In the United States, snail eggs typically hatch during the winter season, and the baby snails feed throughout the season until spring.

The Adolescent

Snails tend to hibernate mostly during winter and emerge above ground during the summer. During this time, adolescent snails are less active due to the circumstances they face.

The body of a snail is covered in a mucous-like substance that requires sufficient hydration, and limited movement during summer is a strategy to preserve as much water in their bodies as possible.

Therefore, it is common to find adolescent snails resting in various locations, such as:

  • The corner of a house
  • Clinging to a doorpost
  • In the thickness of vegetation
  • Under rocks

They will rest wherever they can find shelter from the sweltering heat, as this helps them to conserve water.

The Adult Snail

As autumn begins, snails outgrow their adolescence and become adults. At this stage, the snails mature sexually, and the onset of cool and wet conditions motivates them to become active once again.

The most significant activity during the adult stage is mating, which means that adult snails are ready to procreate, starting the life cycle all over again.

What Determines a Snail’s Lifespan?

Determining a snail’s lifespan is different from determining a human’s. Humans can live longer with good food, access to healthcare, happiness, and enough money.

In contrast, a snail’s only protection is its hard shell.

Garden snails face numerous dangers, including:

  • Being eaten by predators.
  • Lack of food.
  • Dehydration during extremely hot weather.

These conditions result in an average lifespan of 2.5-3 years.

However, observations indicate that snails in captivity can live longer, typically for more than ten years.

Snails in captivity have several advantages, such as:

  • Having food provided at appointed times.
  • Living in shelters that protect them from predators.

Some owners even ensure that their snails live in climate-controlled environments, which help to maintain optimal living conditions throughout the year.

These advantages result in longer lifespans for captive snails, as they have a consistent supply of food, water, and shelter.


After studying the life cycle of snails, it is important to reflect on the factors that promote their longevity.

Snails reproduce asexually, and each individual is male and female. They lay eggs which they take great care to protect until they hatch. Once hatched, baby snails do not receive parental care and must fend for themselves. They feed on egg remnants and leave when their shells are strong enough.

Depending on their environment and access to food, they can live up to ten years in captivity or three years in the wild.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell how old a snail is?

Determining the age of a snail can be challenging, as they do not have visible age markers like tree rings. One way to estimate their age is by counting the number of whorls on their shell, as each whorl represents a period of growth. However, this method is not always accurate as some species may grow at different rates or have irregular shell growth patterns.

How long do snails live in captivity?

Snails can live for several years in captivity with proper care and a suitable environment. The lifespan of captive snails varies depending on the species, with some larger species living up to 15 years and some living up to 25 years or more. However, their lifespan can be significantly shortened if they are kept in inadequate conditions or experience health issues.

What is the longest-living snail?

The longest-living snail on record is a captive-raised snail named George, who lived for at least 14 years in Hawaii, United States. However, it is difficult to determine the lifespan of wild snails as they are not often studied for this purpose. Garden snails, commonly kept as pets, typically live for 10 – 15 years.

Can I keep a wild snail as a pet?

Keeping wild snails as pets is not recommended, as it is illegal in some countries and can harm both the snail and the environment. Wild snails can carry diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans through contaminated freshwater. Additionally, removing snails from their natural habitat can disrupt the balance of the ecosystem and harm other wildlife that depend on them.

How long do snails live in a fish tank?

The lifespan of snails in a fish tank can vary depending on the species and environmental conditions. Some species of snails can thrive in aquariums and live for up to 3-10 years. However, their lifespan can be affected by factors such as water quality, temperature, and the presence of other fish or snails.



  • 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.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply