10 Difference between Slug and Snail (With Table)

The slugs and snails are types of gastropod mollusks. These terrestrial creatures do not have bones and they are quite common on the mulched vegetation.

So, What is the main difference between slug and snail?  A slug is a type of snail that does not have a shell on the back while a snail is a shelled gastropod.

The shell helps the snail to retract inside in case of impending danger. These gastropod mollusks tend to eat plant materials such as leaves, fruits and stems among many others.

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Comparison Table between Slug and Snail

Basic Terms Slug Snail
Description It is a non-shell mollusk that lives on land and secretes mucus for protection. It is a mollusk that has a shell where the whole animal can retract inside in case of a danger
Shell Do not have a shell Have a large and spiral-shaped shell
Habitat Terrestrial Either terrestrial or aquatic
Behavior Can squeeze into different habitats Can retract inside the shell for refuge
Movement Have more compressible and maneuverable movement Have less maneuverable and compressible
Color Have black, grey or yellow colors Have grey color marked with black, brown or white shell
Length Tend to measure about 15 inches Tend to measure about 10 inches
Lifespan Have a lifespan of more than 6 years Have a lifespan between 2-3 years
Human Diet Quite common in many European and Asian cuisine Land snails are quite common in food culinary. Aquatic snails are not good for the human diet
Examples Field Slug, Garden Slug, Keeled Slug, Large Black Slug Garden Snail, Banded Snail, Strawberry Snail
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What Is a Slug?

A slug is a terrestrial gastropod mollusk that does not have a spiral shell. However, some species of slug have an internal shell.

Slugs tend to feed on different organic materials such as mushrooms, leaves, and lichen among many others. These mollusks are regarded as agricultural pests.

Slugs tend to roll their body and contract tentacles when they feel threatened. The tentacles are typically for sensing.

What Is a Snail?

A snail is a mollusk that has a spiral shell on the back. The shell tends to be a hiding ground when they feel threatened. They can retract the whole body into the shell.

These mollusks are either terrestrial or aquatic. Therefore, they are classified as land snails, sea snails, and freshwater snails.

The majority of snails are herbivores and a few species tend to feed on other terrestrial snails. The anatomy of the snails is quite similar to that of the slugs.

Main Differences between Slug and Snail In Point Form

  1. Snails have spiral shells whereas slugs lack a shell
  2. Snails are either terrestrial or aquatic while slugs are terrestrial
  3. Slugs have a longer lifespan while snails have a shorter lifespan
  4. Slugs tend to be longer whereas snails are shorter
  5. Slugs tend to squeeze through different habitats while snails tend to hide in the shell
  6. Slugs are common in food cuisines whereas snails are not common except land snails
  7. The color of slugs is black, grey, or yellow while snails are grey with black, brown, or white shells.
  8. Slugs are more maneuverable and compressible while snails are less maneuverable and compressible.
  9. Slugs move faster in speed while snails move slowly
  10. Examples of slugs are field slug, garden slug, keeled slug, and large black slug whereas examples of snails are a garden snail, banded snail, and strawberry snail.
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Similarities between Slug and Snail

  1. Both belong to gastropod mollusks
  2. Both have a central and muscular foot
  3. Both are invertebrates
  4. Both secrete mucus to facilitate movement
  5. Both breath through the pallial lung
  6. Both have compound eyes and two pairs of tentacles
  7. Both tend to hibernate during dry condition
  8. Both are hermaphrodite
  9. Both move at a slow speed
  10. Both belong to pulmonates

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can A Snail Become A Slug?

No. Slugs and snails are two different species. They belong to different phylum and classes. Therefore, there is no way a snail can become a slug.

  • Is A Snail Faster Than A Slug?

Snails. Research shows that some snail species tend to move faster than some slug species. The average speed of a snail is 1 millimeter per second.

  • Can A Snail Live Without Its Shell?

No. The shell is attached to the back of the snail and it is normally present from birth. The shell tends to grow along with the snail into a spiral shape. So, snails cannot crawl out of the shell.

  • Do Snails Die When Their Shells Break?
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Yes. Shell is part of the body. If the shell break significantly then the snail will die instantly. The shell provides protection and prevents the snail from drying out.

  • What Do Slugs Eat?

Slugs tend to feed on leaves, lichen, carrion, and mushroom among many other organic materials. There are some slug species that are predators hence can feed on snails and earthworms.

  • Are Slugs Good For Anything?

Absolutely. Slugs provide food for mammals, birds, slow worms, and insects. Also, they help in natural balance. Withdrawal of slugs in the ecosystem will cause upset in the balance and harm.

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Comparison Video


Slugs are mollusks that lack shells whereas snails have coiled shells on their back. Removal of the shell from the snail will cause death. The good news is that both slugs and snails are excellent food cuisines across the world.

More Sources and References

  1. Slug. Oregon State University
  2. Snails and Slugs. University of California