Introduction: Snail Painting

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of Some Ideas

Here are some of the designs we came up with

Step 5: Set Them Free!

Picture of 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.


peikiern (author)2016-07-08

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

holyblizzz (author)2015-05-27

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

MorgaunaC (author)holyblizzz2015-10-08

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.

11richie21 (author)2010-06-09

try salt

IsabellaP (author)11richie212014-11-02

Im pretty sure that kills them :/

annz527 (author)2014-10-22

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

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

Zeekthehammer (author)2014-05-26

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.

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

tobathewolf (author)2014-01-19

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

Wow that's a long way! Is that 20 minutes' walk?

Totysheep (author)2011-03-12

seriously fun instructable!!!!

Thanks, it was fun to do

dark sponge (author)2010-06-08

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

jnhenkel (author)dark sponge2010-08-31


Totysheep (author)jnhenkel2011-03-12

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

milesduggan (author)2011-03-02

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

Timboscoops (author)2008-06-20

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!!!!

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!


santy22 (author)prometheus4422009-09-06

but the snail shell is hard!

natalie0031 (author)2010-10-02

hmmm... It might be surprising to find a glittery rainbow snail on the ground...awesome instructable! Too bad i only have very very very very small snails in the yard if any. : |

BakeandBloom (author)2010-07-12

I want to bedazzle one.

canida (author)BakeandBloom2010-09-02

OOh, I want to see!

d3monhax0r (author)2010-06-16

make some strips of gooo so the snails follow it number the snails then get some friends over and bet on which snail gets to the end of the strip of gooo first =D

mouthwashninja (author)2009-01-10

Those are hella huge snails! I live in South Texas, and the biggest snail shells I've ever seen in the wild were about the size of a dime.

The snails are Scottish snails - not originally here, but introduced by the Romans a couple of thousand years ago - to eat, same variety as the French eat (escargots). Snails get pretty big in other countries - like the kauri snail in New Zealand (kauri).

Or the Giant African Land Snail!

crazed rhetoric (author)Arbitror2010-06-13

OOOO! And the Giant Pink Sea Snail!!! ( from the old Dr. DoLittle)

crazed rhetoric (author)2010-06-13

For every one that you paint really colourful, you could paint one camoflaged. It would be cool to see one with digital camo on it lol. Or you could do it red and yellow, or neonish. I think that those are the "danger" colors that preditors look out for.

solo.card (author)2010-06-08

I can't believe this is featured.

cloggy01 (author)2010-06-08

Im making one like a eyeball

cloggy01 (author)2010-06-08

WOW! now you should make a tv show called "Pimp My Snail" :D and im so doing this

weaponscollector94 (author)2010-06-08

i did something similar one time when i was a kid, i got a bunch of snails and gave them numbers 1 through 30 and one day my mom was like "Levi why is there a snail with 23 on it's back" and i told her about my little project and she thought it was hilarious! also you can go out during an evening after it has rained and you can totally tag a bunch of snails! it is pretty funny

maditatai (author)2010-05-03

i like the blue and green one

Arbitror (author)2009-12-10


kevin71127 (author)2008-05-24

led's in snails! nice!

casey321b (author)kevin711272008-05-26

you would have to find and emtpy shellf and wire it al up and find a slug to go in it. it owuld be realy hard to get the slug the right size to fit in it

Arbitror (author)casey321b2009-12-10

One problem: Snails are attached to their shells!

santy22 (author)casey321b2009-09-06

or you caould make a throwhi and stick it on the snail.

Solderguy (author)santy222009-10-04

Or you can super-glue it to the snail. That way it won't croak.

Prosthetics01 (author)2009-09-19

Lol. (all i can 'say')

SugarTeen52 (author)2007-06-01

Aah, ha ha ha. Oh, chuckle chuckle. Hee hee ho hoo. Hooo. Ah. That was fun. Well, now, how does one come up with the idea of painting snails? P.S. That video... hahahaha! Excuse me. Oh, the music. That was awesome! Haha.

Last year I noticed there were a lot of snails in my garden - so being a tad nerdy I started to wonder just how many?... I decided the best way to find out was to catch as many as I could, and mark each with a number. I marked about 50. Thereafter I was looking for snails, when I remembered to, and seeing what proprortion were numbered. It wasn't until my neighbour came round one day and said that she wasn't sure, but, she 'thought she'd seen a snail with a race number on it' that the surreal possibilities dawned on me.

so you were like "hi there, #43 snail!"

Haha, that's so cool! I've found maybe two snails in my lifetime though. Where do you live? (Don't put your address all over the internet, I just mean, like, what state or something)

There's a good way to count wild animals even if you can't catch every single one, that field biologists use. It's called mark-release-recapture - what you do is, catch a bunch of snails and paint them.

Then some time later, catch snails again, and work out what proportion of the painted snails were recaptured, which lets you calculate the total number of snails in your garden.

CookieLuver (author)2009-03-15

I used to love doing this with my friend. one we painted 50 of them and stuck them on a wall. Its fun to see one that you have painted a few years later. :)

dkfa (author)2009-01-12

What is the whole point of the flour and water thing?

mmh (author)2009-01-12

Very amusing and creative. But, why do I sense you have waay too much time on your hands? It does look like you got the silver and red snails excited about each other's new digs.

About This Instructable




More by clockworkdoorbell:Bicycle mechanics overviewCat-proof birdbathSnail Painting
Add instructable to: