Can Snails Get Depressed? {Does Depression Kill Them?}

Are you wondering if a snail can get sad, lonely or depressed? Will depression cause a snail to die? In this article, we’ll discuss if snails can actually get depressed.

Can Snails Get Depressed? Snails have a basic nervous system and aren’t able to process complex emotions. They may bond or become social. Once separated, they could show symptoms of depression. Poor water conditions, loneliness or the inability to acclimate to your tank may cause a snail to shy away, hide, look sad and possibly die as a result. 

Can Snails Die From Depression?

A snail can die from many conditions. Here a few:

  • lack of oxygen
  • not enough humidity
  • insufficient calcium
  • nitrate, nitrite or ammonia spikes
  • aggression
  • fear
  • refusal to eat
  • loneliness
  • depression

An overcrowded tank or water chemistry that your snail isn’t used to, may cause it to shy away in its shell and refuse to come out. It may stop eating as it hides excessively.

Calcium depletion, starvation or poisoning from ammonia could kill a snail. Snails are chomped and eaten by many tankmates who can fit them into their mouths.

Snails also like to socialize at times. They can bond as a pair. If one snail out of a pair is removed or dies, the other may search for it and die from stress, depression or loneliness as a result of losing their bonded pair.

Do Snails Need To Pair Up?

Not all snails need to be paired. Mystery snails commonly like to bond as a pair more than most species in our opinion. If they grow up together, ride on top of each other, mate or roam the tank together, the absence of one will be felt by the other.

The remaining snail may circle the tank, expel most of its energy and eventually give up. At this point, you may feel that this snail is depressed and lethargic. It may stop eating and give up on everything.

Will Snails Get Lonely?

Snails can form basic memories and associations to food or tankmates. They can bond with other snails and feel lonely without their counterparts if they are removed or if they die.

A lonely snail may be deprived of calcium. Add eggshells, cuttlebone and promote their eating habits with food to encourage your lonely snail to keep going and move on.

Add more snails to help build new bonds. Many snails like to socialize. Your lonely snail could require some company.

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Do Snails Get Sad?

A slow moving snail looks sad or gloomy at the bottom of your tank. We cannot assume they are sad when their common demeanor is looking droopy or hiding off in the corner.

Complex emotions are incapable of being processed or displayed by snails with basic nervous systems. They can build some memories however.

If you take away a bonded pair from each other, remove a cuttlebone or isolate a snail on its own in a separate tank, it may shy away or lose interest in movement and eating.

Why Is My Snail So Inactive?

Your snail could be inactive due to the following conditions:

  • The water is too cold
  • Nitrites, nitrate or ammonia have spiked
  • Overcrowding 
  • There is insufficient algae, detritus or other food sources
  • Lack of calcium
  • Illness
  • Old age

Cold water makes a snail move slower or not at all. Poor water chemistry will make a snail lethargic. A lack of food will give a snail nothing to do.

Overcrowding can lead to shy behaviors of hiding in its shell or in secluded spaces away from all the action. Make sure your snail is getting calcium to maintain its shell. Illness strikes at times and old age happens quickly for many snails who may last about a year in your tank.

Do Snails Have Feelings?

The feelings that we know and try to associate with snails are very different. We can process emotions and sensations in ways that snails simply cannot do.

It is said that snails don’t feel pain. We see snails learning to find food from the same location or bonding to another snail as they pair up to mate or socialize.

Do Snails Have Emotions?

It’s hard to say if a snail can express any emotion. Fear, stress and panic may result from aggression, overcrowding or poor water conditions.

Since snails can’t process complex thoughts, feelings or hold onto memories for long periods of time, their basic association to any such feelings are short lived or only present when related to food or their surroundings.

They may follow each other, ride on top of each other, but we can’t say it’s out of emotional love or just a physical need to socialize or mate.

Can Snails Bond With Their Owner?

Snails do not have great eyesight. It is unlikely that they can see you to the point where they can form a bond with you specifically. Any human with food available for a snail may get its attention.

Bonding with you on a deeper level is most likely impossible beyond association with food. Snails can feel with touch and smell, but these physical reactions are on the surface and deeper emotions are hard to grasp for a snail.


Snails may or may not have feelings deep enough to truly feel depressed. A level of fear from its unknown surroundings or isolation in a tank without other snails may cause poor health.

If two snails have bonded or grown up together, one will search for the other. If they cannot find their partner, they may hide, stop eating and decline in health. Their nervous system and primitive functions in their brain do not carry enough emotional capacity to full declare that snails can truly be depressed.

We may see their sluggish behavior and believe they are depressed. We can improve water quality, add more snails and keep food options available to promote their activity and help them out of their shell to resume their daily routines in your tank’s ecosystem.


Thanks for visiting and we hope to see you again for another article on Snails or any other aquatic life that interests you. 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.