How Long Do Snails Sleep? {Can They Really Sleep For 3 Years?}

Has anyone told you that a snail can sleep for up to 3 years? Do you believe your aquatic snails could actually sleep this long?

This article will focus on how long aquatic snails and garden snails sleep, but we’re more interested in your snails that you keep.

How Long Do Snails Sleep? Snails don’t follow a diurnal 24 hour cycle like humans and most fish. They will sleep for 20 minutes on average in a timespan ranging from around 13-15 hours. After this, a snail could remain awake for over 30 hours. A snail that sleeps up to 3 years is too hot, dry or cold and wraps itself in mucus for a long estivation period. 

Don’t expect your snails to sleep for 3 years. Let’s find out more details surrounding your sleeping snails.

How Long Do Aquatic Snails Sleep?

Snails follow a different type of sleep schedule compared to most of your Aquatic Life that you keep in your aquarium. Snails are not diurnal so don’t expect them to be active during the day and sleep at night.

Snails do not follow a daily routine of sleep and active movement. Their sleep and wake cycle is a pattern that lasts between two to three days.

A snail might be alert for 30 hours at a time and take 20 minute rest periods in a 13 to 15 hour sleep window.

How Do I Know if My Snail Is Sleeping?

There are a few tell-tale signs to notice when a snail is asleep. Look for the following indicators:

  • relaxed foot or mantle
  • lowered tentacles
  • dropped radula (tongue)
  • not holding onto anything
  • flopping over
  • slightly out of its shell
  • not responding to food being offered

This moment of rest won’t last much longer than 20 minutes at a time. If you’re very curious, pull up a chair for this short time period and watch your sleeping snail catch some zzz’s.

Do Snails Hibernate?

If you think your snail is asleep longer than 24 hours then it might be hibernating. This is a rare occurrence because it would have to mean that your enclosure is too cold and dry.

If the tank is between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit then this shouldn’t occur. Wild snails hibernate in the winter when their heart rate lowers as they try to conserve their strength.

The theory that a snail can sleep for three years refers to their hibernating state under extreme conditions.

On the other hand if a snail is too hot and dry it may cover itself in a mucus coating as a form of protection or bury itself into the substrate. This is known as an estivation state.

YouTube video

Can I Wake a Sleeping Snail?

You shouldn’t try to wake up a sleeping snail. They will only rest in this position for around 20 minutes or so. It’s best to leave them alone during this time.

Never try to pick up a snail because you may damage its shell or mantle and it could result in the sudden death of your invertebrate.

If you would really like to try to wake a sleeping snail, you could gently pet its shell. Another option is putting food right in front of it to see if it will cause your snail to wake up.

How Long Do Snails Sleep in One Day?

There are only a few animals in the world that don’t rely on the sun’s rotation to determine their sleep schedule. Your snails are one of them.

A Snail’s Sleep Schedule

  • 30 hours awake
  • 12-15 hours in and out of sleep
  • 20 minute of sleep at a time
  • around 7-8 sleep periods before another 30 hours being awake

This means that your snails are living a different kind of way where they are active around 30 hours. After this active period, they can go through cycles of sleep within a 13 to 15 hour window.

There can be up to seven or eight sleep cycles during this time with each one lasting around 20 minutes.

How Long Do Snails Live?

Aquarium snails can live around 3-10 years depending on the water conditions in your tank. Many garden snails only follow an annual life cycle and do not last more than a year.

There are plenty of exceptions with some snail species living up to 15-25 years. Burgundy snails or Roman Snails are examples of long living land snails.

On the other end, aquarium snails like Ramshorn and pond snails may not live longer than 1-2 years.

Is My Snail Dead or Sleeping?

The best way to tell if your snail is dead or sleeping, is to take a close look at its shell. Are there any cracks? Is it withering away or becoming very thin?

A calcium loss will cause a dead snail’s shell to practically crumble over time.

  1. Gently pet your snail and see if this elicits a response.
  2. If your snail is hanging way out of its shell, it’s probably dead. If it falls completely out of the shell, there’s nothing more you can do.
  3. Remove any dead snails from your tank to reduce any ammonia spikes in order to keep your water chemistry optimal.

Do Snails Sleep For 3 Years?

No. A snail may estivate in hot conditions that are too dry or hibernate in cold weather for up to 3 years.

This is different from sleep. A snail depends on moisture in the air and aquatic snails enjoy your tank water.

They will definitely fall asleep longer than the average 20 minute time period in captivity under your tank’s conditions.

An estivating will wrap itself in mucus all over its body for protection against dry weather or bury itself into the ground.


Your snail will enjoy rest periods of 20 minutes or so on its own schedule that doesn’t follow the rest of your aquarium inhabitants. Try not to pick it up by its shell and leave it be for this short time.


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.