Are Garden Snails Poisonous? The Truth Revealed

are garden snails poisonous

Garden snails, those slimy little creatures that we often encounter in our gardens and parks, have always been a subject of curiosity. Are they poisonous? Can they harm us in any way? In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of garden snails and uncover the truth behind their potential toxicity.

Before we jump into the details, let’s address the most pressing question: are garden snails poisonous? The answer is a resounding no. Garden snails are not poisonous to humans. They do not possess any venom or toxins that can cause harm to our health. This means that you can safely handle and observe these creatures without any fear of being poisoned.

Snail Mucus: A Potential Annoyance but Not a Health Hazard

What is Snail Mucus?

Garden snails produce a slimy substance called mucus, which helps them to glide smoothly on surfaces and protect their delicate bodies from dehydration. This mucus is not poisonous, but it can be sticky and unpleasant to the touch.

Allergic Reactions

Some people may experience allergic reactions to snail mucus, such as skin irritation, redness, or itching. These reactions are usually mild and disappear within a short period of time. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid handling snails or wear gloves when necessary.

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Snail Parasites: A Rare But Potential Risk

Transmission of Parasites

Garden snails can carry parasites, which are tiny organisms that can live inside the snail’s body. While these parasites are not harmful to the snail itself, they can potentially infect humans if the snail’s mucus comes into contact with an open wound or is ingested.

Rat Lungworm

One of the most concerning parasites associated with garden snails is the rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis). This parasite can cause a rare but serious illness called angiostrongyliasis in humans.

Symptoms of Angiostrongyliasis

Symptoms of angiostrongyliasis can range from mild headaches and nausea to more severe neurological symptoms such as meningitis and encephalitis. In most cases, the infection resolves on its own within a few weeks, but in rare cases it can lead to permanent neurological damage.

Safe Handling of Garden Snails

Follow Basic Hygiene Practices

When handling garden snails, always follow basic hygiene practices to minimize the risk of infection. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling snails or coming into contact with their mucus.

Avoid Eating Snails

While garden snails are not poisonous, it’s best to avoid eating them. Snails can carry parasites, and cooking them thoroughly may not be enough to kill all of the parasites.

Keep Snails Away from Pets

Keep garden snails away from pets, especially reptiles and amphibians, as they may be more susceptible to infection from snail parasites.


In conclusion, garden snails are not poisonous to humans. However, they can carry parasites that can potentially infect humans. By following basic hygiene practices and avoiding eating snails, you can safely enjoy observing these fascinating creatures in your garden or park.

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