We were hanging out in the Wonderopolis garden the other day and overheard two earthwormsnamed Larry and Moe telling jokes:

Larry: What’s a slug?

Moe: I don’t know.

Larry: A snail with a housing problem!

Moe: Ha! That’s a good one, Larry.

Larry: Hey Moe, what should you do if you see two snails fighting?

Moe: I have no clue, Larry.

Larry: Leave them alone and let them slug it out!

Moe: You’re on a roll today, Larry.

Whether or not you appreciate earthworm humor, it’s clear that snails and slugs seem to go hand in hand. But are they one and the same? Or are they different creatures altogether?

Snails and slugs are both part of the same class of creatures called gastropods. Gastropod comes from the Greek words gastros (stomach) and podos (foot). If you’ve ever seen a snail in an aquarium eating as it moves slowly along the glass, you probably understand why “stomach foot” might be an appropriate name!

Most gastropods are aquatic creatures. That means they live in water. Snails and slugs are the only gastropods that can also be found on land. The majority of snails and slugs, though, live in water.

The most obvious difference between snails and slugs is the fact that snails have shells. A snail’s shell is like a home it carries around on its back. Slugs, on the other hand, have no shell. Otherwise, snails and slugs are remarkably similar.

Their only other differences are in habitat and behavior, but these differences are the result of the fact that snails have shells and slugs don’t. Without those big shells to carry around, slugs can squeeze themselves into many different habitats that snails can’t. For example, you may find slugs under loose bark on trees or stones and logs on the ground — places that snails could never go with their shells.

If you spend much time in a garden or the great outdoors, you may be more familiar with snails and slugs that live on land. As they move along, you’ve probably noticed that they often leave behind a slimy trail.

That slime is called mucus. Snails and slugs make mucous so that they can move on the ground. The mucus keeps their bodies from losing moisture to the dry soil beneath them. It also protects them from being cut by sharp objects in the soil.

Unfortunately, most gardeners view snails and slugs as pests. Snails and slugs can completely destroy gardens by eating plants and fruits, including their roots, leaves and stems. Gardeners sometimes use salt or other chemicals to dry out and drive away snails and slugs.

Some people even turn the tables on snails and slugs and eat them! All over the world, snails and slugs are a source of protein in the diets of many people. They’re even considered a delicacy in some places. For example, in France, escargot is a specialty dish made of a certain type of land snail.

Because of their small size and the way they move, snails and slugs are naturally slow-moving creatures. If it takes you a long time to do your homework, your parents may accuse you of moving “at a snail’s pace,” for example. Likewise, in today’s modern world of instant communication via e-mail, regular mail via the postal service can take days and is now sometimes referred to as “snail mail.”


87 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (37 votes, avg. 3.84 out of 5)
    • Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today and letting us know what you thought about today’s Wonder, Julia! We really appreciate it! :-)

  1. This was a cool wonder of the day! I didn’t know that snails and slugs were different! That is so cool!
    Hannah K.

    • Hello, Shundee! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis today! We encourage you to re-visit today’s Wonder to learn if slugs and snails are different! :-)

  2. I love Snails, They Are So Awesome. I Even Have One For A pet. I Hope You Guys Have A Nice Spring Break. I Am Going To Missouri this week!!!!

    • We think snails are really awesome, too, Barbara! It’s cool that you have one as a pet…thanks so much for sharing that with us! Have a FUN, WONDERful time on spring break in Missouri! :-)

  3. We loved watching the World Championship Snail Race. We learned that snails have shells and slugs do not. We also learned that slugs can go into places that snails can not. We wondered where the snail’s eyes are located?

    We will be on spring break next week and are wondering how many friends from our class will stop by and leave some comments.

    Have a snail-rific Friday!

    • We think we just might have a snail-rific day today, Mrs. Phillips’ Wonders! Sometimes we think it would be fun to be a snail or a slug and S-L-O-W…D-O-W-N…it would be fun to WONDER that way. We hope you ALL have the best spring break ever! Do LOTS of WONDERing, OK? :-)

    • We appreciate your opinion of today’s Wonder, Callie and Morgan. Thanks for letting us know what you think! We hope you’ll give learning in Wonderopolis another try soon! :-)

  4. Some of us thought the video was gross and others thought it was COOL! Slugs/snails are really, REALLY slow! We wanted to know would you rather eat a slug or snail? Thanks for the cool wonders of the week, see you on Monday! Can’t wait for the next one!

    • Hi, Mr. Draper’s Class! Thanks so much for checking out today’s Wonder and for letting us know what you guys thought about it! You guys are GREAT Wonder Friends! We’re not sure we would like to eat either…we prefer to let slugs and snails go on the their slow, merry way! :-)

    • We’re glad you really DID like today’s Wonder after all, Callie and Morgan! Thanks for letting us know and THANKS for visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

    • Keep your eyes on Wonderopolis, Terry! A little Wonder Birdie told us there might be a Wonder of the Day® coming up in the near future that you will REALLY enjoy! :-)

    • Thanks for WONDERing about today’s Wonder, Gertrude! Did you know that many of the ideas for Wonders of the Day come straight from the creative, WONDERing minds of Wonder Friends just like YOU? It’s true! You can tell us what you WONDER about anytime you like by leaving us a comment or by clicking on the “nominate” link at the top of every page in Wonderopolis and answering a few quick questions! It’s super easy and LOTS of fun! :-)

    • Hi, Kaekae! Wonder Friends WONDER about LOTS of different things, including things like snails and slugs. We’re sorry you didn’t care for today’s Wonder. We really appreciate your opinion, though! :-)

    • Thanks so much for letting us know what you think about snails and slugs, Venny! We’re sure glad you left us this comment today! :-)

    • You’re a SUPER Wonder Friend for letting us know what you thought about today’s Wonder, McKenzie! THANK YOU! :-)

  5. I learnd about the cool things snails and slugs do and the races they were very cool. The snails have shells and slugs don’t. I want a snail. I once found a snail on my porch and I put it in the water and it drowned.

    • Thanks for sharing what you learned by exploring today’s Wonder about slugs and snails, Daisy! We’re super sorry your snail died, but maybe you will get to have one as a pet again someday soon! :-)

    • We’re SUPER glad you enjoyed learning about slugs and snails today, Lezly! We had fun learning about them, too! :-)

    • You’re VERY welcome, Madison! Thank YOU for visiting today’s Wonder! It’s SUPER fun to learn new stuff every day in Wonderopolis! :-)

  6. We think tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might be about Jack Frost, or ice, or polar bears, or snow, or ice cream, or an avalanche. We couldn’t decide on just one!

    Snails and slugs are interesting. We can’t believe some people eat them. We’ve never tried them! A few students thought it looked good to eat…

    • We LOVE all the guesses you guys came up with for tomorrow’s Wonder, Miss Kirsten’s Kindergarten GT Class! Now we REALLY can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s Wonder is! Thanks for sharing what you guys thought about today’s Wonder, too! We’re glad you thought snails and slugs were interesting to learn about! :-)

    • That’s OK, Caelah! You can let us know what you’re WONDERing any time you like by leaving us a comment or emailing your Wonder nomination to: hello@wonderopolis.org! Thanks so much for asking how to nominate a Wonder! :-)

    • Hello, Mr. P. and Miss Shoemaker’s 4th graders! Thanks for WONDERing what it might be like to try escargot! We like how you guys described it…”rubbery blubbery” is super fun to say! :-)

  7. Wow, I used to have a slug but, it died and it wasn’t that sad because I went to buy another one so I have 3 now! I think tomorrow’s WONDER will be about Elephants!
    How do elephants learn tricks?
    Keep it WONDERing,
    B Flures

    • We appreciate your comment today, B Flures! Thanks so much for sharing about your slugs. We’re WONDERing…do they make great pets? We like your guess about tomorrow’s Wonder, too! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you thought today’s Wonder was COOL, Jenna! We appreciate hearing that you enjoyed exploring it! :-)

  8. Snails and slugs are both part of the same class of creatures called gastropods. Gastropod comes from the Greek words gastros (stomach) and podos (foot). If you’ve ever seen a snail in an aquarium eating as it moves slowly along the glass, you probably understand why “stomach foot” might be an appropriate name

    • Thanks for sharing part of today’s Wonder, Borshay! We hope you had fun learning about slugs and snails today! :-)

  9. The Grade 1/2 students from Lakewood School in Kenora Ontario are enjoying the learning opportunities from Wonderopolis.
    They especially enjoy the videos.

    • Your comment makes us super happy, Lindsay! Thank you so much for letting us know the AWESOME students at Lakewood School are friends of Wonderopolis! We think they (and you!) ROCK! :-)

    • You would have to move REALLY, REALLY, REALLY slowly, Clay! We think we will try to act like a snail, too! We will be able to see WONDER from a snail’s perspective! Thanks for the GREAT idea! :-)

  10. So I brought up the question for the Wonder of the Day today and had 2 former middle school Science teachers discussing it …. topics are interesting to all ages ….

    • You are absolutely right, Melissa! WONDERing is awesome for learners of all ages! Thanks for sharing your experience with us today! :-)

  11. Slugs and snails are veeeery slow. I liked the video. I had an apple snail once and his name was Gary. Now, we have a giant goldfish named Goldy/Godzilla. Hope to see the next wonder!!!

    • Thanks for sharing about your pets, Andrya! We think it’s awesome that your goldfish is named Goldy/Godzilla…that’s a WONDERful name! :-)

  12. That’s so cool! That’s just like Spongebob Squarepants’ snail, Gary! That’s a sweet wonder! I can’t wait for tomorrow’s wonder! :)

    • Thanks for letting us know you thought today’s wonder was SWEET, Hannah! We can’t wait for tomorrow’s Wonder, either! We WONDER what WONDER we will all WONDER about? :-)

  13. Hey Wonderopolis, will you have any for football or soccer (football meaning soccer in British)?


    Mushkale from Mrs.T’s class

    • We’re glad you think this Wonder is COOL, Sidney! It makes us happy to hear what our Wonder Friends think about the Wonders of the Day! :-)

  14. If salt kills snails… AHA! I have solved a solution for dying snails! A human simply needs to acquire pepper and sprinkle it over the dead/dying snail and it shall be revived! Genius!!! :D

    • We’re not sure how that will work out, Clayton, but we have to tell you…your idea IS really clever! We like how your Wonder brain works! :-)

    • That’s a WONDERful, colorful coincidence, Laura! Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  15. I LOVE SNAILS AND SLUGS. The slug looked like a yellow sock with yellow mustard on it. Can you make a wonder about whales?

    • We hope you’re enjoying WONDERing about snugs and snails, Olivia! They’re tiny little creatures and they can’t go very far very fast! :)

  16. Desmond the Moon Bear is back! Anyway, Desmond had thought the only difference between snails and slugs were that slugs had no shells. Now I hear this. Desmond confused. o3o

    • Welcome back, Desmond the Moon Bear! We are so proud of you for WONDERing with us today… it sounds like you’ve got some more awesome information to think about! Keep your WONDERful head up! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How are slugs and snails different?
  • Where do most snails live?
  • Why do many gardeners dislike slugs and snails?

Wonder Gallery

slug_shutterstock_58118686Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to provide some encouragement for a snail or a slug? Snails and slugs may not be very fast, but we’re sure they have many other redeeming qualities. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write an encouraging card to a snail or a slug.

Imagine your recipient is feeling bad about finishing last in a local garden race. What can you say to cheer him or her up? What great qualities should he or she feel proud of? What accomplishments could he or she boast about? For even more fun, listen to the book Some Smug Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards!

Even though you’re writing to a snail or a slug today, you could write the same sort of letter to a friend or family member any day of the week. If you ever see friends or relatives who are feeling sad, a few supportive words could cheer them up in a hurry.

When you’re finished, please share your encouraging letter with your other Wonder Friends by posting it on Facebook. We can’t wait to read it!


Still Wondering

Slugs and snails say so! What do they say? They say you should use ReadWriteThink’s Ferocious Fighting Fish: An Ocean Unit Exploring Beginning Word Sounds lesson to focus children’s attention on alliteration!


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A cold front is moving into Wonderopolis overnight. Better watch out for ice tomorrow!

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