Why are Snails So Slow? Snails are known to move slowly, creeping at a rate of 1-2 feet per hour, but that doesn’t answer the question in the title of this article. 

If you live near the coast, you’ve probably seen snails slowly crawling along the sand in search of food, because they’re actually pretty slow creatures. 

But why are they so slow? You may assume that it’s because of the shell that they carry around with them, but there are actually lots of other factors involved in snail movement and speed. 

Take a look at this article to find out why snail speed depends on everything from the species to the weather!

Why are Snails So Slow?

Snails, or gastropods, have a low surface-to-mass ratio which makes them one of the slowest animals on earth. They move at an average pace of 2-3 inches per minute, which is roughly 20 body lengths per hour. 

The snail’s metabolism is slower than most other animals as well. The oxygen they need has to be extracted from the air and brought into their cells by hemoglobin in their blood vessels. 

This means that they need a large amount of lung capacity in order to process the same amount of oxygen that other animals would need for similar activities. 

Additionally, because snails use both lungs and gills when underwater, their gas exchange needs to occur more slowly so they can extract enough oxygen. Snails also don’t produce much carbon dioxide so they’re not able to keep up with the rates needed to get rid of it through respiration. 

Their digestive system isn’t as efficient either since it takes longer for food particles to break down when digested; this also contributes to why snails are so slow. Obviously, we do not neglect its shell weight which is so heavy.


How Slow Does a Snail Move?

A snail moves at a rate of 3 to 4 inches per hour. In comparison, a human walks at approximately 2 miles per hour. The average human can walk the length of a football field in 13 minutes while it would take a snail 20 hours to do the same distance.

Snails also have the ability to retract their head and most of their body into their protective shell when they sense danger approaching and some species can even secrete an acid that will help keep predators away from them. 

Though snails are slow, they are able to live up to 30 years or more so this is why you’ll often find these creatures near water. 

With the changing of the seasons, snails hibernate during colder months and awaken when warmer weather arrives again so they can continue their food search. Though slow, these creatures serve as a beneficial part of our ecosystem.

Related Post – Do Slugs Go On Artificial Grass?

Can Snails Move Faster?

Snails can’t move any faster than they do because of their anatomy. They also don’t need to be able to move any faster, as they’re not hunted by predators. 


The slow pace of the snail’s movement allows it to spend less energy on locomotion and more on other vital processes such as digestion and reproduction. 

Other factors such as rain or wind may affect how fast snails move, but generally speaking, they move at a slower rate than most other organisms. 

A second reason for their sluggishness is that the mucus in their shells acts like an adhesive for both themselves and the surface underneath them, meaning that even if they wanted to run away from something, they couldn’t!  But there are benefits to being so slow. 

For instance, due to their inability to escape danger quickly, they have developed a keen sense of smell which helps them detect food sources and potential mates. And though you might think that being so slow would make them easy prey for predators, this isn’t the case. 


Their slowness actually makes them hard for predators to catch as it becomes too difficult for hunters who rely on speed – like birds – to track down snails before they get into hiding places under leaves or rocks.

Aside from being one of the world’s fastest terrestrial slugs, freshwater slugs have many interesting adaptations that make life easier for them. One notable feature is their mantle – this structure has folds that serve as lungs which allow freshwater slugs to breathe underwater.

What happens if a snail touches you?

If you touch a snail, it will feel slimy because it is covered in a layer of mucus that helps to keep it moist and also protects it from being eaten by birds. 

The mucus has tiny hairs on the surface that help to stop things from sticking to the snail’s body, like dirt, for example. 

And if you touch a snail too hard, its shell might break which can be detrimental to its health. It can take up to 10 days for a snail to fully heal from losing its shell! Luckily, most snails have an extra set of shells they can wear while their old one heals.

Bottom Line

Snails are one of the slowest animals on Earth. They can move at a speed of 0.00065 mph, or just one inch every 16 minutes. 

This is because they’re missing a vital organ, the brain. Without it, they can’t control their muscles as well and so they can’t go any faster than that. 

However, snails have a defense mechanism to evade predators: when threatened by danger, they just retract into their shell and wait for the danger to pass by. If you ever see a snail going fast, this means it’s in mortal danger!

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Meet Tomas Clayton, a seasoned plant gardener who has been passionate about horticulture since he was a child. Tomas John developed a love for the natural world and a strong appreciation for the beauty of plants while growing up on a farm.

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