Why Do African Land Snails Burrow?

Why Do African Land Snails Burrow

If you have decided to keep large African land snails as pets, it’s essential to not only understand their care requirements but their behavior as well, like burrowing into the substrate.

If your African land snail has burrowed into the substrate and stays there for an extended period, there’s no need to panic. The reasons for such behavior may be entirely natural, such as resting or laying eggs, and may not indicate a serious illness.

Without further ado, let’s look at the primary reasons why snails may burrow into the substrate.


Giant African land snails are nocturnal animals. Therefore, they often bury in the substrate during daylight hours and come out at night when they are more active.

The nocturnal behavior is not uncommon for grazing invertebrates and is mainly associated with attempting to avoid visual predators whilst feeding.

This behavior also allows them to rest and conserve energy. Essentially, it is an instinct that helps them navigate their surroundings effectively and ensures their well-being.

So, be ready for that.

However, they may come out during the day if they feel secure and the conditions are favorable.

Low Humidity

Insufficient humidity can also significantly influence snail behavior in a terrarium.

African land snails need high humidity primarily because they breathe through a specialized respiratory opening called a pneumostome. This opening needs to stay moist to allow oxygen to diffuse into the snail’s respiratory system and facilitate proper respiration.

So, if the environment becomes too dry, the pneumostome can dry out, hindering the snail’s ability to breathe. Additionally, humidity prevents dehydration and ensures that all physiological processes function optimally.

Therefore, if humidity levels get too low, snails will try to seek refuge by burrowing into the substrate. The substrate typically retains the required moisture for these gastropods.

To mitigate this and encourage natural behaviors, it’s advisable to maintain optimal humidity levels (60 – 80%) by periodically moistening the terrarium with a spray bottle.

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Incorrect Temperature Conditions

 Like all organisms, African land snails have also evolved within specific temperature ranges (68 – 77°F or 20 – 25°C) that are considered optimal for them.

Thus, incorrect temperature can and will significantly impact their activity and behavior.

High temperatures can induce stress and dehydration, while low temperatures may reduce the snails’ metabolism and affect their reproduction.
Maintaining an optimal temperature in the terrarium is crucial for African land snails.

So, if the ambient temperature becomes too hot or too cold, the snails may start burrowing into the substrate. This behavior helps them avoid unfavorable conditions.

Incorrect Terrarium Location

It may sound like a very obvious thing, but when you put some mind to it, you might be really surprised how many details must be taken into consideration.

For example, stay away from such things as sunlight!

Never put your tank in a place where it will be under direct sunlight, even if it is only for a brief amount of time. The reason is that direct sunlight will raise the temperature and also cause humidity issues.

In an attempt to escape the heat, land snails may burrow into the substrate instinctively.

Reproduction: Egg Laying

Why Do African Land Snails BurrowThe next reason why the African land snails burrow is associated with the process of their reproduction. These snails reproduce through egg-laying.

Once ready to lay eggs, these snails seek out a suitable spot in the substrate, where they create a nest to deposit the eggs.

Note: However, sometimes they can also lay them on the surface or at the base of plants and wood.

Burrowing serves as a protective measure for the eggs. It ensures that they are securely placed in the substrate, shielded from potential threats and environmental variations.


Stress is a physiological response to any harmful or uncomfortable stimuli. Unfortunately, African land snails are not immune to it.

Stress can prompt a land snail to burrow as a protective response.

Even short-term stressors for your pet may have adverse effects on their health. If it continues over time it may weaken their immune system, making them more vulnerable to diseases.

Various factors can induce stress in snails, including:

  1. Sudden changes in environmental conditions.
  2. Handling or disturbance by external factors.
  3. Presence of predators or potential threats.
  4. Inadequate or imbalanced nutrition.
  5. Overcrowding.
  6. Exposure to chemicals or pollutants in their environment,
  7. Injuries, etc.

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If Burrowing Is Natural Why My Snail Do Not Burrow?

Now, let’s consider the opposite scenario where land snails may not show a strong inclination to burrow. Would this be considered a deviation from the norm?

Well, in my opinion, if Large African land snails do not exhibit a strong inclination to burrow, it may not necessarily be considered a deviation from the norm.

Snail behavior can vary based on species, individual preferences, and environmental conditions. While burrowing is a common behavior for many land snails, some may choose not to burrow frequently or at all, especially if they feel secure and comfortable in their habitat.

Substrate Problems

At the same time, we should not forget about potential problems with the substrate itself.

For example, if your terrarium has very high humidity, it will eventually affect the substrate’s structure. Basically, it will become denser over time. Additionally, such a substrate retains minimal warmth.

As a result, snails simply cannot or do not want to burrow.

Therefore, I need to repeat it once again – monitor the humidity level and check the substrate from time to time. If water drips from it when you squeeze it – this is a bad sign! You need to either change it or dry it at least.

At the same time, it may happen that even after replacing the substrate, the snails still do not burrow. In this case, there is no need to worry; simply give them time to acclimate.

Substrate change may stress the snail due to the altered environment. Adaptation and acclimatization take time.

If possible, a gradual replacement of the substrate is recommended to minimize stress on the snail and ensure a smoother transition.


The age of a snail can also be a reason why they might burrow more frequently compared to larger adult snails.

Obviously, young snails have more delicate and thin shells which cannot protect them against external elements very well. Additionally, they are more prone to be predated.

Therefore, they burrow into the substrate more often.

In Conclusion

Understanding the behavior of your land snails is a crucial key to their successful care. The fact that a Large African land snail burrows into the substrate does not necessarily indicate a problem; in fact, it falls within the realm of normal behavior for them.

What becomes more significant is monitoring changes in their behavior.

So, if a snail changes its burrowing behavior—either spending more time underground or stopping altogether—prompt attention is crucial to identify potential issues.

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