Snail Painting

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Introduction: Snail Painting

Fed up with snails eating your garden? Fancy a bit of artistic creativity?
In this Instructable we will show you how we turned a humble bunch of leaf-munching pests into colourful mobile artworks.

Step 1: Find Your Snails

Snails like eating, procreating and doing absolutely nothing. During the day they mostly do the third. You'll find them hiding in clefts of plants, under garden debris,in crevices in walls and so on.
Best to gather a few and then go back for more as you use them up - surprisingly for such inert creatures they can be quite difficult to corral in quantity. Use an old plastic lemonade bottle with the top cut off or similar as a holding-pen.

Step 2: Give the Snails Something to Do

Don't expect any gratitude, but they'll be happier with a little sustenance.
Mix a little flour in a cup with some cold water to give a thickish goo.
Take a large tray and lay out lines of the goo.

Step 3: Be Creative

Time to start painting & decorating.
Grab a snail (gently) from the holding pen and place it on the tray.
Now you can start painting.
Obviously you don't want your new friends to die on you - so you must use non-toxic materials. We used artist's acrylic paint, and for glueing (lightweight) decoration (sparkly stuff is pretty cool) we used PVA adhesive. These are good because once dry they are water resistant.

Step 4: Some Ideas

Here are some of the designs we came up with

Step 5: Set Them Free!

Now you've done your artistic best and the paint is dry it's time to release them back out into the wild.


Keep an eye out for your technicolour invertebrates - they'll make you smile when you see them. Some may go further afield & give your neighbours a double-take.
No snails were harmed in the making of this Instructable.

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    107 Comments

    This is terrible for the snails. That paint can and most likely will poison them.

    This is not art, this is true nastiness projected here towards helpless living beings. Total disrespect. I think this should not be on instructables.com

    1 reply

    On the contrary this is helpful for the snails. The bright colors will trick most predators into thinking their venomous, and will prevent them from being stepped on and less likely to be killed by people who view snails as "just a pest". It also doesn't hurt them at all, it's like painting your hair or maybe applying makeup.

    Im pretty sure that kills them :/

    They would die even faster because of the bright colour that can attract birds, and birds would get poisoned from the paints too..

    1 reply

    Or perhaps they would do better: many animals use bright colours to say 'I'm poisonous!'.

    I have been avoiding these guys where I live (acreage with no gardens) and now hopefully I won't step on them once I start putting a few dobs of vehicle touch up paint on their shell. brilliant/ fun idea and I won't tell anyone I'm doing it either haha.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the comment! I'd like to see the looks on the faces of others when they spot them...

    One time my friend painted a snails shell and let it go free. It ended up in my backyard. She lives 20 minuts away from me

    1 reply

    This must do wonders to the snails' camouflage! (good luck hiding from predators with a orange and blue checkered shell!)

    2 replies

    Maybe the colours trick the birds in thinking that they're poisonous? Besides, they're just snails, they'd probably get eaten either way.

    I step on them and then paint them.....wait scratch that reverse it.

    that is mean beacause a snails shell is supposed to be a shelter and camoflauge from any predators, im sure you would be happy when birds attack the slow moving helpless targets!!!!

    2 replies

    I think it's actually unhealthy for them too. I was always told you shouldn't buy painted shells for your hermit crabs because...I guess they'll die. It's actually not good to put acrylic paint on yourself because the heavy metals will find their way into your blood stream.

    Non-toxic paint or something like face paint would work!

    I LOVE SNAILS!!! :)