Can You Die From Eating Snails? Uncovering The Facts Behind The Myths (2023)

Have you ever heard the old wives’ tale that eating snails can be deadly? You may have heard from your grandmother that snails can cause serious health problems or even death. While it is true that snails can be a potential source of harm, the idea that you can die from eating them is largely a myth. In this article, we will uncover the facts about snails and their potential for harm. We will discuss the scientific evidence and examine the myths surrounding the consumption of snails. We will also highlight some of the safety precautions that should be observed when handling and eating snails. So, let’s get started and uncover the truth about whether you can die from eating snails.

Can You Die From Eating Snails?

Snails are not poisonous. They are actually a pretty good source of protein and calcium, and they have been used as a food source for centuries. But it is possible to die from eating too many snails. One of the most common causes of death in the Philippines during the past century was the consumption of poisonous snails that were intentionally served by unscrupulous vendors to unsuspecting customers.

What Is The Risk Of Eating Snails?

Poisonous Snails

The most common cause of snail-induced death is the consumption of poisonous snails. These toxic mollusks are often served as a delicacy in restaurants and sometimes even sold in markets. Although they look harmless, they contain a toxin that causes severe gastrointestinal problems, convulsions, and even death.


Another type of snail that can be dangerous to eat is the snail-borne parasitic worm known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis or rat lungworm. This worm can be found in the Philippines and other tropical regions of Asia and Africa, where it causes an infection known as angiostrongyliasis or rat lungworm disease. The infection is very rare in people, but it can be deadly for dogs, cats, horses, and other animals who come into contact with infected snails or their feces. The parasite is also present in certain wild animals, such as rats, opossums, raccoons, and squirrels.

Poisonous Bites

If a snail is accidentally ingested, it could cause intestinal obstruction and peritonitis, which is a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity. In some cases, the infection can cause death within a few days or weeks.

Parasites in the Environment

Snails are often eaten by dogs and cats when they have access to contaminated soil or water. This can lead to infection with parasitic worms such as Angiostrongylus cantonensis or rat lungworm disease, which can be fatal for dogs and cats if they eat infected snails or their feces. Parasitic worms from these species may also be found in wild animals such as rats and opossums that are infected with these parasites from snails.

Eating Too Much

If a person consumes too many snails, the body will be unable to eliminate them from the gastrointestinal tract, and they will remain in the intestines, where they can cause severe digestive problems. These symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and even death if a person is not treated.

Eating Unwholesome Snails

The risk of eating contaminated snails is increased if the snails are eaten raw or undercooked. In some cases, people have been known to eat snail salads that have been prepared by others and then later found out that the salad contained poisonous snails. A similar situation occurred in 2013 when a woman ate a snail salad prepared by her son-in-law and was diagnosed with rat lungworm disease after three days of illness. The disease has no known treatment, but it can be prevented by avoiding eating raw or undercooked snails as well as cooking them thoroughly before consuming them.

What Can Health Problems Eat Snails Cause?

Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the stomach. It is very common in many countries, especially countries where people eat a lot of food with high-fat content. The reason for this is that the stomach is full of food when it gets exposed to high levels of fat. There are many types of gastric cancers, and most of them are caused by the consumption of carcinogenic substances like tobacco, alcohol, red meat, and so on.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is also a type of cancer that can be caused by eating snails. This kind of cancer has many different causes, but they all have one thing in common – they are all caused by excessive consumption or prolonged exposure to certain substances such as alcohol and tobacco products. The risk factors for liver cancer include alcohol drinking, heavy smoking, and poor diet habits like eating too much-processed food during your youth years (which leads to an increased risk of developing liver cirrhosis later on in life).

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the large intestine. It is also one of the most common types of cancer in many countries, especially those where people eat a lot of fatty foods and drink too much alcohol. The risk factors for colon cancer include heavy drinking, smoking, and eating a diet high in red meat and processed food products.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is one of the most common blood-borne diseases that can be caused by consuming snails without any precautions. This kind of disease can be transmitted to humans through contaminated blood or by sharing infected needles with someone else (for example, during drug use). Liver damage caused by hepatitis B can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer later on in life (which would then cause even more serious health problems). If you have ever been exposed to hepatitis B, you should immediately see your doctor and get tested for liver damage.

Dental Problems

Most of the snails sold in pet stores carry a risk of being infected with bacteria that cause dental diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. If you eat snails, you should brush your teeth regularly and see your dentist regularly to prevent any serious dental problems in the future.

Food Poisoning

Eating snail meat can also lead to food poisoning. This kind of problem can occur when eating raw snails and is usually caused by a bacterial infection or other harmful bacteria (such as the bacteria that causes botulism). You should not eat raw snails, and if you do, you should always remember to cook them thoroughly before serving them to your family or friends.

What Precautions Should You Take When Eating Snails?

Wash Your Hands After Handling Snails

You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling snails, even if they are cooked. You can use soap and warm water, or you can use an antiseptic hand cleaner. If you do not wash your hands properly after handling snails, you run the risk of getting an infection.

Cook Snails Properly Before Serving Them to Your Family and Friends

You should always cook your snails thoroughly before serving them to family and friends. This will help prevent them from becoming infected with any diseases such as hepatitis B or food poisoning (if they are raw). If you do not cook your snails properly, you run the risk of getting sick yourself or contracting a disease such as hepatitis B, gingivitis, or periodontitis.

Be Careful Not to Get Any Slime in Your Mouth When Eating Snails

If you eat snails raw, you may get some slime in your mouth from the body of the snail. This slime contains a toxin that can cause allergic reactions, including burning and swelling in the mouth and throat.

Be Careful Not to Eat Snails That Contain Diseases

If you encounter any snails that are infected with diseases such as the one that causes botulism, it is best to avoid eating them altogether.

Avoid Eating Snails if They Are Spotted

If you encounter any snails that are spotted with a greenish or black-colored substance, you should avoid eating them altogether. Spotted snails may harbor the parasitic worm known as the pork tapeworm. This worm can cause serious health problems in humans, including meningitis and blindness.


Snails have been a staple source of food for many cultures for centuries. While the consumption of snails does have its risks, it does not pose a serious threat to human health. The risk associated with eating snails varies depending on the type of snail being consumed and on your personal health. The most common health problems associated with the consumption of snails are gastroenteritis, allergic reactions, and parasitic infections. When eating snails, it is important to ensure they are prepared correctly to avoid contracting any harmful health problems.


Can eating snails harm you? ›

Eating raw snails can, in rare cases, lead to a condition called rat lungworm disease. The rat lung worm is a parasite that can get into snails if they come in contact with rat feces (poop). If you eat a raw snail with this parasite, you can become infected.

What are the side effects of eating snails? ›

Snails live on the seabed and field, so they can carry many parasites that live for a long time, they only die with high temperature. Therefore, before taking snails, they must be washed thoroughly. Eating uncooked snails will cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Are Muslims allowed to eat snails? ›

“For the majority of scholars, it is forbidden to eat it, as it is an insect. But, the Maliki school of fiqh permits it, just like locusts.” Alloush explained that the prohibition is partly due to the difficultly of slaughtering snails under the rules of Sharia.

Why do you have to starve snails before eating them? ›

Snails can consume potentially harmful substances from their environment, such as pesticides and harmful bacteria. By starving the snails for a few days, you give them the opportunity to eliminate these harmful substances from their bodies, reducing the risk of ingesting toxins when you eat them.

Do snails feel pain? ›

Snails may have opioid responses and mussels release morphine when confronted with noxious stimuli. Both reactions suggest that these animals do, in fact, feel pain. While mollusks don't have brains per se, they do exhibit some nervous system centralization. They have several pairs of ganglia connected to a nerve cord.

Can escargot make you sick? ›

“Yes, it is essential to purge snails before eating them. If the escargots are not purged, the dirt, fecal matter, and potentially toxic plants in their digestive tract can pose a severe health risk to humans,” Anton told Entertainment Weekly.

Can snails survive being eaten? ›

Tiny snails can survive being eaten by birds—and the gastropods come out the other end perfectly healthy, a recent study says. Researchers studying feces of wild Japanese white-eye birds had noticed a surprising number of intact snail shells, especially of Tornatellides boeningi.

What diseases can snails give you? ›

Epidemiology and pathogenesis of snail-transmitted parasitic diseases
  • Paragonimiasis. Paragonimiasis, which is caused by members of the genus Paragonimus, is an inflammatory lung disease. ...
  • Fasciolopsiasis. ...
  • Clonorchiasis and opisthorchiasis. ...
  • Fascioliasis. ...
  • Angiostrongyliasis. ...
  • Schistosomiasis.
Apr 9, 2018

What happens if you eat too many snails? ›

Therefore, it is necessary to balance these two nutrients by eating foods rich in calcium and providing phosphorus from daily foods. Eating a lot of snails in one meal can cause indigestion and bloating. So, is it good to eat a lot of snails, the answer is not to eat too much.

Do snails have blood? ›

Snails consist of blood to 20 to 50 %, the sea hare's (Aplysia) body weight is about 75 % blood. Most snails' blood pigment is haemocyanin. Contrary to haemoglobin, used by vertebrates, haemocyanin works on a complex with copper as oxygen binding atom.

What are 3 foods not allowed in Islam? ›

By Islamic law, all foods are considered halal, or lawful, except for pork and its by-products, animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering, animals slaughtered in the name of anyone but Allah (God), carnivorous animals, birds of prey, animals without external ears (some birds and reptiles), blood, ...

What animals can't Muslims eat? ›

Meats of pigs, boars, and swine are strictly prohibited in Islam, and so are meats of carnivorous animals such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, dogs, and cats(1), and birds of prey such as eagles, falcons, ospreys, kites, and vultures.

How are snails killed before eating? ›

Still, it is known that snails are typically slaughtered by boiling. If these animals have valenced experiences, it is probably an extremely painful way to die.

Is escargot alive when eaten? ›

Because of their anatomical structure, you cannot simply take a live snail and eat it or cook it. Before they can be eaten, they need to go through a cleaning process. The cleaning process is basically leaving them alive for 8-12 days without food. That way their digestive system is clean.

Is escargot inhumane? ›

While we've normalized eating snails around the world, the truth of the matter is that consuming these tiny creatures is inhumane and in some cases, dangerous. Despite not being able to display emotions that humans can understand, snails deserve to live and be left alone.

Can you get sick from eating raw snails? ›

In some cultures, snails are commonly eaten. Some children, in particular, have gotten infected by swallowing snails/slugs “on a dare. ” People also can get infected by accident, by eating raw produce (such as lettuce) that contains a small snail or slug or part of one.

Are snails poisonous to eat raw? ›

Can Snails be Eaten Raw? Don't eat snails raw or undercooked. They can carry a disease called the rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus species). This disease can cause headaches, a stiff neck, skin tingling or pain, a low fever, nausea and vomiting, and, rarely, neurological diseases or death.

Do all snails carry Lungworm? ›

Not every snail or slug carries the disease and lungworm's geographical limitations means infection is currently relatively uncommon, but it does rear its head from time to time. In extreme cases it causes the death of infected patients, so it is potentially extremely serious.

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