How Long Do Snails Sleep?

Written by Colby Maxwell
Published: February 10, 2022
Image Credit microcosmos/Shutterstock.com
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Snails make for amazing pets! While some may be afraid (or too grossed out) to handle them, a pet snail is usually okay with humans handling them, as long as it’s gentle. But occasionally, there is that rare time when you go to check on your snail and it’s completely still… is it dead, sleeping, or just hibernating? Let’s learn all about how snails sleep and more.

Do snails even sleep?

How Long Do Snails Sleep?
Snails sleep in shorts bursts for a few hours, then totally wake for up to 30 hours.

iStock.com/Daniela Schröder

Sleeping is an important tool that many creatures all over the world utilize to increase productivity between certain times and promote a higher level of healing and recovery. Humans sleep every day, but many of the animals we encounter in our lives have vastly different sleep schedules than we do! Today, let’s look at snails and determine what their sleep patterns are and how pet owners can best handle them.

Do snails even sleep? Yes! Snails do sleep during the day, but it’s a very different schedule than humans are used to. There hasn’t been a lot of study around snails and their sleep habits, but a study in 2011 decided to closely follow a few pond snails in order to best learn if (and how) snails sleep. The conclusion? They do.

In the study, they followed eight pond snails over the course of a few days and learned that they all had similar patterns. The snails would sleep for around 25 minutes at a time, around seven times every 13 hours. After this “rest period,” they would then be able to go for 33-41 hours before having to repeat their seven naps.

Additionally, they didn’t seem to follow any rules when it came to the time of day, and this was only a study done with pond snails. The results are helpful, as it’s possible that land snails (what most people keep as pets) have similar behavior. Still, it’s important to note that the sleep habits of animals can vary drastically between species – just look how much it can vary between humans of the same species!

What time do snails sleep?

How Long Do Snails Sleep?
Snails are generally nocturnal, but they aren’t picky when it comes to sleeping!

Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.com

Land snails are generally nocturnal. This simply means that they are most active during the night, but human handling often disrupts this. While humans are diurnal animals; sleeping at night and spending our active moments during the day, snails aren’t as picky when it comes to their sleeping habits.

According to the study, they operate on a 30-hour cycle where every 30 hours, they will spend 13 hours taking seven naps. With a cycle like this, the snails didn’t much depend on the light outside, just an internal sense of needing rest. When conditions are especially moist (like in a man-made habitat), coming out during the day is less of a risk and more likely to happen.

Is sleeping the same as hibernating?

How Long Do Snails Sleep?
Snails “estivate”, or hibernate, when conditions are too extreme.

Zuzha/Shutterstock.com

Snails sleep, but they also hibernate! They aren’t the same thing, and generally, snail hibernation is referred to as estivating. Estivation is a strategy used by certain animals to conserve energy and moisture in especially hot and dry conditions. Since a snail is so dependent on staying moist, estivation is a useful tool used during dry spells during the most extreme weather swings (both hot and cold) during the year. In the wild, estivation is much more common since the snails are exposed. In human enclosures, it is less common as we can control the temperature and moisture levels artificially.

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