Limpkins forage by walking in shallow water, searching for snails visually, also by probing in mud and among floating vegetation. They may feed at night, especially on moonlit nights. Limpkins move to solid ground to remove snail from shell or to pound mussel open. The tip of the bill usually curves slightly to the right, which may help in removing snail from curved shell. The bill also usually has a slight gap just behind the tips of the mandibles, which may help in carrying and manipulating the snails.
Historically, the limpkin was nearly hunted to extinction in Florida due to overhunting. New laws and conservation efforts prevented this from happening and the population recovered. There are still major threats to the limpkin population that include the decline of their primary prey, apple snails. Due to habitat destruction and wetland drainage, heavy accumulations of non-native vegetation (mainly hyacinths and cattails) in foraging areas prevents the limpkin from being able to locate food. Other threats include pollution and an overabundance of nutrition in wetlands.