Do Snails Have Color Vision?

Middle School Science Fair Project
Photo © 2008 Brendan DeBrincat, Flickr

Ever wonder if snails can distinguish one color from another? And, if so, do they show any kind of color preference? Seventh grade California State Science Fair entrant, Andryus K. Planutis, certainly did and designed an experiment to find out. If your child or student has an interest in zoology, this project might be right up their alley!

Project Overview

Planutis designed his project around common garden snails, hypothesizing that if they could distinguish colors and had a color preference, it would be green - the color of their shelter and food. To test this hypothesis, he conducted several experiments. Here's a brief overview:

  • Experiment #1: Place a garden snail between two sheets of colored paper - one orange and one light green. Observe and record the reaction of the snail. Planutis collected data on 60 snails.
  • Experiment #2: Repeat experiment #1, covering the paper with a large piece of transparent glass to temper the snail's senses, ensuring that their path is not based on smell or pigment taste.
  • Experiment #3: Repeat experiment #1, replacing the light green sheet of paper with a dark green piece, to determine whether preference is based on color saturation (i.e. snails always prefer dark colors over light, and vice versa).

For experiment results, conclusions, and a formal procedure, be sure to visit Planutis' science fair submission to the California State Science Fair.