Picture of Snail Painting
Fed up with snails eating you 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.
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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 - suprisingly for such inert creatures they can be quite difficult to corral in quantity. Use an old platsic 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

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 (lightwieght) decoration (sparkly stuff is pretty cool) we use 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.
tobathewolf3 months ago
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
clockworkdoorbell (author)  tobathewolf3 months ago

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

Totysheep3 years ago
seriously fun instructable!!!!
clockworkdoorbell (author)  Totysheep3 years ago
Thanks, it was fun to do
dark sponge3 years ago
This must do wonders to the snails' camouflage! (good luck hiding from predators with a orange and blue checkered shell!)
Maybe the colours trick the birds in thinking that they're poisonous? Besides, they're just snails, they'd probably get eaten either way.
milesduggan3 years ago
I step on them and then paint them.....wait scratch that reverse it.
Hougashucka5 years ago
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!

but the snail shell is hard!
chocogrape3 years ago
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. : |
I want to bedazzle one.
OOh, I want to see!
d3monhax0r3 years ago
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
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!
OOOO! And the Giant Pink Sea Snail!!! ( from the old Dr. DoLittle)
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.
11richie213 years ago
try salt
solo.card3 years ago
I can't believe this is featured.
cloggy013 years ago
Im making one like a eyeball
cloggy013 years ago
WOW! now you should make a tv show called "Pimp My Snail" :D and im so doing this
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
maditatai3 years ago
i like the blue and green one
Arbitror4 years ago
kevin711275 years ago
led's in snails! nice!
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
One problem: Snails are attached to their shells!
or you caould make a throwhi and stick it on the snail.
Or you can super-glue it to the snail. That way it won't croak.
Lol. (all i can 'say')
SugarTeen526 years ago
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.
clockworkdoorbell (author)  SugarTeen526 years ago
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.
CookieLuver5 years ago
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. :)

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