Why Do Mystery Snails Leave Their Shells?

There are two main reasons why mystery snails come out of their shells. Firstly, for mating, and secondly, for feeding. Mystery snails are bound to their shells, and should never fully disconnect from them. 

In this article, we are going to go into more depth about the reasons for mystery snails leaving or disconnecting from their shell, and if there is anything you can do to prevent it.

Why do mystery snails come out of their shells?

The two main reasons that snails leave their shells are to eat and to mate. It is perfectly normal for mystery snails to hang out of their shell a little. If you are concerned, give them a tap. If they retreat back in, then everything is fine. 


Mystery snails will come out of their shells to feed. They are a very peaceful addition to your aquarium and like to live with peaceful fish. They are generally pretty docile and will graze on the algae around the tank. They will come out more often if they do not feel threatened by their tank-mates.

They enjoy highly oxygenated waters and tanks with plenty of vegetation. They are likely to come out of their shells when there is a lack of food and attempt to leave the tank. These snails are known as ‘escape artists’. They are also prone to overeating and can stay out of their shell for extend periods of time to indulge. 


Mystery snails are fond of mating, and once sexually mature, will do so often. However, unlike many snail species, mystery snails are not hermaphrodites, meaning that they do not have both male and female reproductive organs. Luckily for tank owners, this prevents them from becoming pests.

Males and females will both come out of their shells at the start of copulation. The male will slide up the female’s back until it finds the reproductive tract, and insert its sheath. Mating can take place from anywhere between 1 and 6 hours, where the male will be out of its shell. The female will continue on with daily activities such as grazing or snoozing.

Do mystery snails ever leave their shells?

Simply put, no. A mystery snail’s first reaction, when approached by another aquatic species, is to retreat back into its shell. Even if the species nips or pushes them, they will not leave their shell. 

Should my mystery snail be completely disconnected from its shell?

Mystery snails are attached to their shells, and should never be fully detached from them. A snail’s body is attached to its shell by the columellar muscle, and if it ever becomes separated from it, it is likely done through trauma or force. 

Unfortunately, snails cannot survive without their shell, as it provides vital calcium that the snail needs to survive. When a snail is first born, they will eat the high-calcium egg that they hatched from. As well as this, the shell offers protection from predators and prevents land snails from drying out. 

Why has my mystery snail separated from its shell?

Snails will not outgrow their shells, and will not need to leave them for a bigger shell as they grow. The shells are present from the snail’s early development and grow along with the snail, almost like an external skeleton. If your snail has completely disconnected itself from its shell, it’s likely a bad sign. 

A few reasons why your snail has completely detached from its shell include; injury, force, illness, or stress. If your snail is suffering from an illness or an increased amount of stress, it can strain its way out of its shell, however, this is very uncommon. The first reaction would be for the snail to retreat inside of its shell.

On the other hand, if they are attacked by a larger animal, they can be pulled out of their shell or their shell can be broken. 

How can I prevent my mystery snail from disconnecting from its shell?

The two main ways to prevent your mystery snail from being detached from its shell are to keep the water at a high calcium level so that the snail doesn’t need to search for any more. Also, to make sure you are not keeping your snail in the same tank as any predators that will try to attack it. 

Whilst snails can repair minor injuries to their shell, if it becomes fully detached from its shell for any reason, it will die. 

Why do mystery snails need shells?

A snail’s shell is part of its skeleton, known as an ‘exoskeleton’. Snails need their shell to protect them from predators; children and animals alike. They are considered non-aggressive, as they have no other means of protecting themselves. 

The snail’s shell is also vital for hydration purposes. Whilst mystery snails are not at high risk of dehydration like non-aquatic snails are, it still helps them hold and build up mucus to keep their bodies wet. Non-aquatic snails dry up very quickly, and for this reason, you’ll likely only see them out of their shell at night or when it’s raining.

Lastly, mystery snails, like other types of snails, need their shells to provide calcium. Snails must have a plentiful amount of calcium, and large breeds can demolish the vitamin rapidly. Calcium provides many benefits to the snail including shell growth and repairs, muscle contraction, fluid regulation, cell wall functioning, and egg-laying


Mystery snails are very docile, and tend to spend their days grazing and dozing. They will mainly only leave their shells when mating or eating, however, when this happens, they can be out of their shells for long periods of time. 

The mystery snail’s shell is vital for protecting, hydration, and calcium. The snail will not be able to survive without it. It is important to keep your mystery snail in a harm-free environment, where it is not at risk of stress or predators. 

A mystery snail should never fully disconnect from its shell, and will not need to swap shells or be removed from its shell for any reason. 

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