Snail Tattoo Meaning, Designs & Ideas

Snail tattoos can symbolize perseverance and working toward a goal. They can also represent a person’s love of nature or their connection to the circle of life.

In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of snail tattoos and show you some unique examples.

All About Snails

There are many types of snails, including land snails, sea snails, and freshwater snails. Snails are characterized by their spiral shell, soft, slimy body, and two tentacles on their head with eyes. Snails live all around the world, in plants, under leaves, and in lakes and oceans.

Snail Tattoos

Since snails are fairly tiny creatures, they tend to appear in small tattoos, often on the ankle, wrist, or forearm. Both men and women get snail tattoos but women seem to favor this creature more. Many snail tattoos are realistic portrayals of the animals however, there are also creative interpretations and cartoonish images. Black and gray snail tattoos are a bit more common than colored ones.

A Treasured Pet

Believe it or not, some people keep snails as pets. Now, they’re not cuddly like a cat or a dog but they do have a certain charm to them. People enjoy keeping snails because they are interesting to watch and don’t require a lot of care.

Just as some individuals will tattoo a picture of their beloved dog on their arm, snail owners may choose to get a tattoo of their pet as well. In this case, the tattoo tends to be a realistic image of the snail and may include its name in the tattoo as well.

A Relaxed Attitude

The snail has a bad reputation for being lazy, however, it is easy to put a positive spin on the creature’s slow speed and say that it is unhurried. The snail is simply going about its business in an easygoing manner, not being rushed but enjoying what life has to offer.

This relaxed attitude of the snail is very appealing to people, particularly because we live in a society that often praises being busy and overworked. For someone who is trying to slow down and cherish the moment, a snail tattoo might be the first step in the right direction.


Another way of looking at the speed–or lack thereof–of snails is to characterize it as patience. The snail is not capable of bursts of speed or getting anywhere quickly, so it must be patient when going through its days.

Anyone who is trying to become more patient may get a snail tattoo to symbolize this. With so much going on in our lives, there are many competing demands and it can be hard to hurry up and wait! The snail tattoo is a reminder that good things come to those who wait.


The snail is viewed as a symbol of self-sufficiency because it carries its home with it wherever it goes. The shell of the snail provides shelter and protection when needed. Snails do not rely on anyone else to provide for them because they can take care of themselves.

For someone who is hoping to become more independent and learning to rely on themselves instead of others, a snail tattoo can be a great idea. The image of the snail and its shell can represent a person’s desire to become self-sufficient in any area of their life.


Because snails are not the fastest creatures–some estimates say they move at a rate of 1 meter per hour–they must be persistent in their efforts. Snails have to keep going to get where they want, even if it takes longer than they hope. 

People, just like snails, have to persevere as well. It’s easy to get discouraged when we feel like we are not making progress or that it’s taking too long. When we have goals, we want to reach them quickly, not have it take months or years to achieve. 

A snail tattoo is a great reminder that the things in life that are worthwhile often take time. The important thing to remember is that as long as you are making progress and not moving backwards, you are well on your way to achieving whatever you hope to. This tattoo reminds one not to give up on their dreams but to keep going even when it is tough.

Circle of Life

The snail–in particular, its shell–is representative of the circle of life and the cyclical nature of things. Most snails have a circular or spiral shape to their shells–this image is symbolic of how nature operates in cycles. Therefore the snail acts as a symbol of life, death, and rebirth.

A person may choose to get a snail tattoo as a way of honoring the circle of life and the way in which life transitions from one stage to the next. Someone who has recently lost a loved one may have this cycle on their mind as they process their grief.

Individuals who get snail tattoos, for this reason, will pay a lot of attention to the image of the shell since it is this part that represents the circle of life. These tattoos can feature some incredibly beautiful and intricate designs on the snail shell.

Nature and Gardening

Many people who garden soon discover that there are many more snails in the world than they realized. These creatures are often found in the soil as well as on various plants that might be growing in the garden. 

Gardener may find themselves becoming rather fond of these creatures as they come across them day in and day out. They might choose to get a snail tattoo as a result of getting to know these animals. Their tattoo may include flowers or plants that illustrate their garden as well.


The snail is a unique creature and many people simply enjoy how it looks. They may choose to get a tattoo just because they like these odd little creatures. Snails have a certain charm to them that appeals to many people in a playful way.

The structure of the snail also lends itself to creativity when it comes to designing a tattoo. The shell, in particular, can have any type of pattern or color imaginable and a person can make a truly unique tattoo in this way.

Featured image by JessPeel, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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