Freshwater molluscs have physical defences such as shells to protect their inner soft bodies from underwater predators. However, some predators have specialized mouthparts that can destroy the snail’s tough and/or spiral shells. Therefore, these snails could have evolved specific defences against their specialist predators. We observed the freshwater snail Austropeplea ollula (Pulmonata: Lymnaeidae) frequently climbing rice plants above the water in paddy fields in Shimane, central Japan. We also found the beetle larvae of Hydrophilus acuminatus (Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae), which are known as snail-eating specialists, in waters of the same paddy fields. We hypothesized that A. ollula climbs rice plants above the water to escape underwater predation by H. acuminatus and that the escape behaviour of snails may be specifically triggered by chemical cues from snail-eating specialists and/or killed conspecifics. To test both these hypotheses, we conducted laboratory experiments. The results demonstrated that chemical cues (e.g. body fluids) from killed conspecifics could trigger A. ollula to crawl above the waterline. Furthermore, chemical cues (e.g. scent and digestive enzymes) from H. acuminatus could promote the behaviour. Therefore, A. ollula can successfully escape from H. acuminatus by climbing the rice plants above the water.