“ Animal Species: Molluscs „
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved snails. I used to keep them in a shoebox in our shed as mum wouldn't let me bring them inside! So when I discovered giant African land snails some years ago, I decided I needed in on that. I now have a tower of stacked storage boxes containing my collection of snails and keep and breed numerous different species and variations (I blame them for my interest in, and ever growing collection of, spineless creatures).
They make brilliant pets for any ages, but are especially good for children who want something a little out of the ordinary. They don't bite or sting and are not harmful in any way. In fact it is easier for us to harm them, as anything nasty on our hands can be absorbed through their 'foot' while handling. So always wash hands with a mild gentle soap or wear thin gloves (handy thing to have for cleaning as well). They are very amenable to being held, and will quite happily slime around investigating you. If you're lucky, you may even feel their mouth parts moving against your skin. It tickles but feels a little strange. Children should be forewarned that this is not biting and will not be sore, to save them getting a fright and trying to shake the snail off! It is fascinating to watch them move across their tank, as you can see the 'rippling' of their foot; this is their means of locomotion. When they get quite big, it's surprising how much power they have, and getting them off your hand can be hard work! It's worth mentioning though that they are NOT overly slimy! They don't leave snail trails like our native snails do.
They come in lots of colours and sizes, some having bright yellow shells, some having bright white albino flesh. There is a huge variation just within the commonest species (Achatina fulica), never mind the other species with the Achatina genus, and then you have Archachatina as well. Snails are a serious business! While some of the more unusual species are more delicate, care is mostly the same for the more common types. Adult sizes depend largely on husbandry, and unfortunately many babies available in the pet trade are inbred to some extent. This can make no difference, but can also result in a failure to thrive. Snails which do not thrive can either live a normal lifespan but attain far smaller sizes and may have slight shell deformities, or they may die prematurely. Different species will reach different adult sizes as well, there is no one size fits all. Generally though, a healthy snail should reach at least 3 to 4 inches in shell length. Some can grow to over 12"!
**Housing, Care & Feeding**
I personally like to use large storage boxes (like Really Useful Boxes or similar) as you get way more space for your money, and they can be stacked (necessary for me, I have a huge collection as well as many other pets). I use a coir substrate with lashings of sphagnum moss; peat free compost can also be used but I like coir as it is clean and the perfect texture for them to burrow down. It also holds humidity much better than soil. They need a calcium source, a good way to provide this is to use cuttlefish bone like you give to birds. If you listen carefully you will hear them eating it, they make a rasping sound!
They are generally happy kept at room temperature, but if you've a very cold house or during the winter you may need to use a heat mat. Mist their enclosure with water every day, and feed them a range of vegetables and fruit. Believe it or not, they do have different tastes, and what one snail devours another may barely touch! I have found the favourites to be sweet potato, cucumber, romaine lettuce, carrot and aubergine. Avoid citrus fruits and anything from the onion family. They can also have moistened dog/cat biscuits, a very shallow dish of beer or Guinness (really!), brown bread, porridge, ground sunflower and pumpkin seeds, so many things. Full lists can easily be found online for inspiration.
As to cleaning them out, I only do a full clean out when really necessary - I spot clean by removing old food and poo, turn over their substrate and wipe the sides with damp kitchen roll every time I feed them. It's important to ensure the sides don't get too dirty, as it can interfere with their ability to stick to them, resulting in falls which can cause shell damage.
Snails are (for the most part) hermaphrodites. This means they have both male and female sexual organs so you do not need a 'boy' and a 'girl' to get babies. They can also hold onto their eggs, if they feel laying conditions are not right. This means if you buy a larger snail and keep it alone, you should still be on the lookout for babies. Saying that, these do much better in groups and are reported to be more active with heartier appetites therefore you shouldn't keep one on it's own. I have found this to be true.
If you don't want to be over run with babies, it's simple. You just need to check regularly for eggs. Eggs can take anything from 2 to 6 weeks to hatch, so you have plenty of time to check, even if you only do it once a week. If you keep your snails in something see through, you can look at the bottom/sides and any eggs will likely be visible against the glass/plastic, as they bury them far down, to keep them humid and protected. Of course, sometimes they don't bury them right against the walls/bottom so you should turn over your substrate every week. This also has the benefit of 'fluffing' it up as it can go flat. To dispose of unwanted eggs, you can put them in the freezer for a couple of hours or let them dry out completely on the windowsill or such. They can then just go in the bin. If you miss babies, or choose to let them hatch, please bear in mind that some species are very very common, so you will need to give them away for free.
**Snails as Livefood**
Another option for you if you miss babies, is to pass them on for livefood.. There are many lizards that eat snails (Bosc monitors I believe, and skinks love them), turtles will eat babies and eggs, and the eggs can be fed to fish as well.
Whether for livefood or for pets, you can easily sell snails by mail order (though for the commonest ones you may just cover the postage costs!) therefore not limiting yourself to local new homes only. I'm just including this as I've a lot of experience of doing this, so would like to pass on my tips for packaging them. Firstly, you should only post when the weather isn't being extreme, and then only by Special Delivery for guaranteed next day. If you are posting eggs, you can use regular first class. I put the snails/eggs in a small sturdy tub full of coir, with some food on top. There shouldn't be any space in the tub for the snails to rattle around. They don't have anything like the same oxygen demands as us, so don't worry about suffocating them (but don't forget a few airholes)! I then wrap the tub in bubble wrap and place it into a bigger cardboard box. Any gaps inside here are crammed with void filler (don't forget underneath the tub), so the smaller tub is 'floating' within the box and does not move when you shake the box. Then tape it all up nice and securely and mark as containing live invertebrates.
Overall, I love these creatures. They are easy, fascinating to watch and come in so many varieties. They are cheap to house and feed, but very addictive. Once you start discovering all the different colours and species you will probably want them all! I would definitely recommend these for anyone with an interest in slightly more exotic creatures. Prices vary for species, but they are always available on eBay, and a search for related discussion forums will throw up plenty with a classifieds section.
Having kept four giant African land snails for several years, I've come to the conclusion they're actually a very rewarding pet to keep. Relatively low maintenance (fresh food and spraying every day, and cleaning out every week or so along with fresh cuttlefish will keep them happy) they will reward you with the opportunity of watching a fascinating, and surprisingly affectionate, creature.
I would suggest keeping your snails in a roomy glass tank. This both gives them the opportunity to explore a 3D environment, and allows you to watch their mode of locomotion - if you look closely while they are moving you will see the 'foot' (the whole of the base of the snail) rippling as the powerful muscle pulls the snail (complete with shell) along - this muscle is so strong it is perfectly capable of moving the entire weight of the snail while it is both vertical or indeed upside down.
I would also strongly suggest keeping your snails in pairs or larger groups (providing there is plenty of space in the tank). Having watched mine interacting over the years, I've many times seen them becoming, for want of a better word, affectionate with each other, entwining feelers and burrowing next to each other. This doesn't necessarily seem to be a precursor to mating, but rather simply the two creatures interacting on a more ethereal level. A word of warning however. Any two snails of breeding age will almost inevitably mate and produce substantial numbers of eggs (often into the 100s in each laying). Unless found and humanely destroyed (usually by freezing), you will find yourself with many, many baby snails all looking for a new home. Unless you know a substantial number of people who want baby snails, always remove and destroy the eggs before they hatch.
Giant african land snails (also known as GALS) make good pets, as they are pretty low maintinance, can be found fairly cheap and most kids love them. If you don't have a big garden for a dog, or have fur allergies, snails could be the ideal pet.
First thing you need is a good sized tank, the bigger the better. Small plastic tanks are ok for babies, but once they get bigger a larger home should be provided. Many people like to use large plastic see through storage tubs as these can be bought fairly cheaply (especially in comparison to a new glass tank), and its easy to drill a few ventilation holes in the lid. Good sized glass tanks can often be found at good prices at bootsales, so its worth a look there, just ensure you give any you buy a very good clean before use.
Heat and humidity are important, you should find out what levels your snail/s will need before buying, and if needed get a good quality heatmat. This should be put on the side of the tank, as there have been known instances of snails burying themselves in substrate, falling asleep and being burnt when the mat was under the tank. Usually misting the tank once a day is enough to keep the humidity correct, but if there are to many ventilation holes you could try covering some with clingfilm.
Substrate should be provided in a decent thickness, I find coir works best, it comes in a block fully compressed, then you put it in water and it expands to a much greater amount. It holds humidity in the tank well and is sterile, so it is free of nasty bugs that might be in compost. Organic compost is also used, but it tends to draw those pesky small black flies more. Sphagnum moss is another alternative, although it works out more expensive.
Decorations in the tank is always nice, it makes it more pleasant for you to look at and provides the snails with more surfaces to explore. Branches, plastic plants, resin ornaments, cork bark and organicly grown real plants are all options. It is important not to put anything to hard in the tank though, a fall from the lid onto a piece of rock for instance can cause bad damage to a shell and even prove fatal.
Calcium is vital for the development of the snails shell, if it is unavailable the new shell growth may be weak and deformed. Calcium can be given in the form of cuttlefish bone, limestone flour, limestone chips and crushed eggshell, although cuttle is the most commonly given.
Foods eaten are lettuce, cucumber, sweet potato, carrot, butternut squash, apple, sweetcorn and more. If you are unsure if a food is ok for your snails you should easily be able to find out if it is ok with a quick google search. Pumpkin seeds work as a dewormer and giving a few every couple of weeks is fine. Water can be provided in a shallow dish, but it must be very shallow if you have babies, or leave it out entirely. It is possible for snails to drown. Avoid foods such as pasta, consuming this can kill a snail as it continues to swell inside them.
Whatever species you decide on, you should do plenty of research before getting them, make sure you know exactly what you are doing and be certain you can give the care they require. There are lots of forums dedicated to these creatures, and signing up to one means you can get advice when you need it.
Often the most commonly kept species Achatina fulica can be found advertised for free in newspapers, petshops and places like freecycle. Unfortunately this is due to the fact snails are hermaphrodites, meaning both male and female, so any two of a species can breed, and they are also able to produce fertile eggs alone. With often hundreds of eggs in every clutch all it takes is one going unnoticed and you can end up with hundreds of unwanted baby snails, which can be difficult beyond belief to rehome. Its important you thoroughly check the substrate for eggs every day or two, freezing any unwanted eggs overnight then crush them to ensure they won't hatch.
I have many different species of GAL, ranging from full albino Fulica to huge Archachatina Marginata, the care requirements all differ, but I find them fascinating to watch and a joy to keep. Most people just say "gross, its slimy" and don't take the time to examine them more closely. If you are going to get a pet snail (or two, they like company), please remember to check for eggs daily, and consider giving a home to one of the thousands of unwanted GALS that will otherwise end up as feeder food.
My son is one of those annoying kids who every time he sees an animal says "can we have one of those?", usually accompained by tears and sulks when the inevitable answer is no. The problem is that no matter how well intentioned he is, I know mugsy (me) will end up looking after it after he has lost interest. Pets require lots of dedication and devotion. It is only fair to them, as well as a lot of thought and preperation before purchasing. Buying pets on a whim is a bad idea.
However, we have found a perfect compromise. Possibly the most low maintenance pet imaginable! Giant african land snails, or GALS to their fans make excellent pets and make a great introduction to petkeeping for children.
We initially saw them in June 2008 for sale in our local garden centre for £1 each. I was surprised at how pretty they looked with their "tiger" markings against the brown shell. When my son asked if he could have one, I said that we possibly could, but we would need to find out all about them first to make an informed choice.
The best place to find info on GALS is the web. Type GALS into the search engine and you are presented with a fantastic array of useful websites whic explain everything you need to know about keeping snails. The people who run these sites have lots of experience, and invite you to e-mail any questions you may have. After reading several such sites, I agreed to buying a snail, so the following week we went back and got one.
Before buying a snail you need to make sure you have everything it needs. The minimum requirements are A plastic tank with a lid, a spray water bottle, substrate such as compost, a bit of bark for shelter and climbing, and food. You also need to buy a cuttlefish bone, as they need this to maintain their shells.
The tank is easy to set up. The best place to get a tank is Wilkinsons, because they do a plastic tank for £4 which is just the right size. Snails like to bury themselves, so it is important to fill the dank to an appropriate depth for the snail. You can use compost, but be careful about chemicals, and i find that the problem with compost is that it houses little crawly things, that although they won't harm the snail, will multiply quickly in the tank and make it look nasty. I prefer the expandable coir substrate that you can buy from petshops, for about £4 You add water and the block expands to form a soft floor for the tank. Add some bark for interest, but make sure the snail can't injure its shell if it falls from the top of the tank. Spray the tank with water so it is moist, but not soaking wet. Put the cuttlefish on the bottom of the tank.
We picked the liveliest one we could see, because I wanted a healthy pet. He was really small, so I took a photo, to remind us how small it used to be.The shop we had it from has an excellent reputation and all the animals are well cared for. They put the snail in a little plastic tub for transportation and we took it home.
The lady in the shop said they would eat anything, but our snail is a bit fussy. He likes cucumber, sweetcorn and lettuce, but won't eat his tomatoes and broccolli. Make sure you don't feed them anything with salt or bran in (or slug pelletts!!!) We keep a piece of cucumber in the tank and replace it with fresh regularly, removing old food.
GALS live for 10 years, so buying one should not be taken lightly. We bought a single snail because snails are Hermaphrodite, meaning they have girl and boy parts, so any two snails can breed. They say that if you keep 2 together, they will be more happy and active, but you would need to be fastidious about checking for eggs every day. When our snail hit 12 moths old, he started laying yellow eggs in the bottom of the tank. This was a bit of a shock, but I found out later that this is normal and that the eggs are sterile.
We clean out the tank once a month and completely replace the soil. We also remove poo, old food, every couple of days and spray the tank as needed with water to keep the moisture high.
If the snail is not kept in a warm place it will hibernate, forming a thick layer of slime over its shell opening. My son freaked when our snail did this, and thought it was dead. The slime washes off and the snail needs to be put un a warmer place,or you need to use a heat mat, which is available from pet shops to put under the tank.
GALS like to be handled and you can pick them up by their shell as long as you don't touch the pale new growth. they like a bath in the sink in warm water, but don't submerge them completely.
We got a Giant African Land Snail from our friends for Christmas 2008, he is now affectionately known as Mr Slow.
Mr Slow arrived with us about the size of a small marble. He liked burying himself in soil and hiding away. With much persistence he has grown - his shell is now the size of a tennis ball and when extended his both is the length and thickness of a small banana.
I think they are really odd pets but he does serve up some amusement. He slurps his way around his tank, we like his feelers that pop out as he searches his way around. It's also pretty cool to see his body rippling (the muscle wave) that enables him to move around, you can see this clearly when he travels around his tank.
~~What does he eat?~~
Apparently land snails eat everything from apples to carrots. However our Mr Slow is a little fussy. He loves cucumber and lettuce. He eats pears but wont touch much else! This is fine by us as a 70p cucumber lasts all week! Cheap as chips.
We also give him a cuttle fish which provide the much needed calcium forhim to continue producing his shell and maintaining the current shell.
~~Does he drink?~~
We spray his tank with warm water every day, this adds to the tanks humidity and also gives hiim water to drink. You cannot put a bowel of water in for him as he might drown in it.
~~What does he do?~~
He likes burying himself in soil to sleep. Or travelling to the top of his tank and hanging upside down to sleep.
He likes travelling around his tank from top to bottom, side to side, generally looking around with his cute feelers.
He also likes baths. We hold him and put him in warm water, careful not to leave him too long otherwise he will drown. But if you submerge your hand so he is only just in water and then alow water to spill over his shell - he loves it!!!
~~What do you house him in?~~
We got him in a small plastic animal tank but have since upgraded him to the extra large plastic tank. It needs to have a roof else he will go everywhere in your house. We got his tank for about £7 from a large pets superstore.
We also have a little aquarium cave for him which he likes to hide in when it is cold. You can have a heat mat to keep the tank warm but we don't. His tank is in the kitchen so keeps quite warm from the heat of the kitchen itself. He seems to prefer it there then other places in the house we have tried.
At the bottom of the tank we use some soil - just regular stuff you buy from a garden store. We fill it with several inches of soil
~~How often do you clean him out?~~
We dig over his soil every few days and spraying the tank cleans the sides. We then change the soil every few weeks (ot too often really)
You can expect a Giant African Land snail who is well cared for to live for several years - up to about 7 is average.
~~Where can I buy one of these fine creatures?~~
You can buy them from losts of places, people my advertise on small ads locally or online. I think our friend bought Mr Slow from a seller on eby which makes me sad as Ithink he was transported in the post (I do not advocate this as it seems cruel to me!) You can buy them for 50p to £2 depending on the seller. You would expect to pay more for the larger ones (these are the older more grown ones)
I think they are actually quite good pets especially for children as they don't really need a huge amount of attention but they would work well to teach children about responsibility and how to take care of animals. They are pretty hardy creatures and don't really need a lot of imput. They also provide quite and interesting converstion and provoke different and comical responses from our friends. Combined with the fact they are relitively inexpensive I think these creatures are definate winners.
It's unfortunate to say that a lot of people would think that having Giant African Land snails as pets is a bit pointless. Why not just get some snails from the garden?, they say. However! I've got 3 of these wee fellas and I have to say they are some of the most interesting pets you can have.
They start off the size of a standard British snail really, progressively growing to at least the size of your hand. It's really interesting to watch them grow. I'm quite sad myself and I like to measure mine and record their progress. They can grow up to a foot in body length, with the shells ending up the size of a tennis ball.
They're really easy to look after too, which is great if you have kids who are interested in creepy crawlies and such. Mine are in a slightly heated tank, soil in the bottom, and I spray them with water every day just so they get a bit of humidity and they have something to drink. They arent fussy eaters either, anything from lettuce to carrots. It's good to keep dried cuttlefish in there too, as they get their calcium from this, which helps their shells grow bigger. Cuttlefish bits are cheap to buy, around 50p each so you dont have to worry about expense!
Obviously they are just snails, so they are really fun to handle (if you dont mind the slime!). They are really cheap too, ranging from 50p to £3 depending on where you get them from. Mine were £1.50 each, and it's been money well spent! They are really cheap to feed and really easy to clean. I clean mine out every couple of weeks and this seems to be just fine for them.
I'm sure that a lot of people without much thought just dismiss the idea of having any sort of snail as a pet, and I can completely understand why. They're slimy, they don't show affection and they won't play fetch with you.
But they are such interesting things to have! I've had mine for 2 years now and watching them grow has been really amazing. I started off with 3 pea-sized snails and now have 5 that are nearly as big as my hand.
I got mine from a science teacher when I was at school who had just bred about a hundred of them and was desperately trying to give them away to all of her students. Although my snails were given to me, I've seen some around in pet shops and they're very cheap.
Caring for them is also cheap. Mine are housed in a plastic, clear tank which I think cost me around £4. I use wood chippings to line the bottom of the tank and spray them with water daily as they must be kept moist. I clean them out about once every fortnight to a month and this seems sufficient.
As for food, a bit of lettuce or cucumber once a day is enough for them, although there is a number of different fruits and vegetables you can feed them. As well as this, they need a source of calcium to make sure their shell grows well and maintains a good condition. I use cuttlefish bone for this, which can be bought cheaply from a pet shop. Other sources of calcium include eggshells, calcium powder, powdered oyster shell, natural chalk and wood ash.
Breeding is simple, easy and ustoppable if you have two or more snails in a tank together. Eggs are laid usually within a month of mating in batches of about 100 - 200. The snail will bury them at the bottom of it's home and they will then take around 30 - 40 days to hatch. It is a good idea to take them out and put them in a seperate tub to hatch. When they hatch, they should be left where they are to eat their eggshells. Unwanted eggs should be put in the freezer for several hours.
Handling is easy and fun but it must be done carefully and young children should be supervised. Hands should be washed and made wet before handling and care should be taken not to damage the more fragile parts on the edge of the shell.
Overall, Giant African Land Snails are so easy to look after and watching them grow has been just fascinating. They're cheap and so interesting! I think one of the most appealing things about them is that adults and children alike can enjoy them. They would be great pets for any parent to get for their child and I think they could be a great way to teach younger children about responsibility.
For a lot of people I'm sure pet snails just don't appeal and I can completely understand that! But I personally have really enjoyed keeping mine and would recommend them to anyone.
Giant African land snails or GALS make brilliant pets as they're so easy to look after but they're also fascinating. Many people go "eurgh!" when they first meet them but after they learn about them they see that they're not as disgusting as they first thought.
I take my "Bobs" (Bob and boB!) into schools to do talks about them and I've donated pairs of baby snails to local schools because they make wonderful classroom pets as you can involve them in several of the curriculum subjects. (If you're a teacher and want to know more, please contact me, I also have worksheets I can send you.)
*How To Look After Giant African Land Snails*
Home: They live in a clear tank; a fish or hamster tank but it must have a lid with air holes. Line the tank with damp soil (you can get cheap bags from Wilkinson's or coir blocks from eBay) and they like things like plant pots and rocks to slime on and under (but make sure there are no sharp edges). Anything that goes in the tank must be thoroughly washed with hot water first to clean any germs off.
Cleaning: They need cleaning out at least once a month, or sooner if you think they need it. Make sure you remove any uneaten food or this can attract flies. You should also remove any poo from the soil surface every few days.
To clean the tank just lift them out, empty the dirty soil, give the tank & pots/rocks a quick clean then replace with fresh soil. You can clean the snail's shells (when they get bigger) with a child's toothbrush and by holding them under a gently running cold tap.
Feeding: They eat most fresh fruit and vegetables but make sure you wash them first. The favourites include: lettuce and cucumber but try them with different vegetables. They don't need regular feeding - just put some food in & replace it when it's all gone or before it starts to go mouldy. In warmer weather the food goes off quicker so replace it before it goes bad as you could get flies in the tank. They don't like citrus fruits as these are too acidic.
Calcium: They need have a good source of calcium for their shells to grow. They like to nibble on cuttlefish and eggshells (remember to wash them first).
Water: You can include a small water dish if you want to but make sure it's shallow so they can't drown. Otherwise just use a water spray to dampen their tank (& them if you want to) once a day or more in warmer weather.
Tank: Keep out of sunlight and not somewhere drafty. They like to be kept warm so putting them near a heat source is fine; you could even buy a small heat mat for them. Keep the lid closed as they can move faster than you'd think!
Babies: Snails can be male and female (they take it in turns) so if you find eggs in your tank and don't want hundreds of baby snails then just put them in the freezer for a few days to sterilize them then you can throw them away.
Picking them up: Make sure your hands are clean and wet and be very gentle. If they're stuck to something, don't pull them hard as you may pull the shell off. You can either tug gently, wait for them to slime onto your hand or slide your fingers underneath their foot to lift them off.
Beer: They like a little bit of beer so to treat them you could put a drop in a plastic lid for them!
Hibernation: They will go into hibernation in winter if their tank is kept somewhere quite cold. Don't worry as soon as it starts to warm up they'll wake up. Give them a wake-up bath and have food ready for them, they'll be hungry!
Very Useful Website: www.the-snail-trail.co.uk
IMPORTANT: You must never release Giant African Land snails into the wild as they would eat more vegetation than ordinary snails and upset the balance of nature.
giant african land snails make great pets! they are intresting and so easy to look after...
when i was younger me and my brothers and sisters always nagged my mother for some after a family friends had some but she always said no... we had snakes, lizards, cats, gerbils, guinea pig and rabbit - but snails were a no go... i never quite understood that and decided that when i was old enough too choose what pets i kept, i would get some, for old times sake!
well we currently have 142.... yes you read that right... what happened was we got 4 from freecycle, one large one, one slighly smaller and two babies.
my 4 year old quickly names them upsy and daisy, makka and pakka....yes we love in the night garden on cebeebies!
a week later the large one laid eggs...
i had read all about this before hand you can control this by putting the eggs in a bag in the freezer for two days before putting them in the bin...
but my other half, being a typical man thought it was only fair the poor 'chap' (technically not true they are a bit of both) should at least get the chance to... have some babies and so we decided that we would incubate and hatch the eggs and see if they hatched...
well 3 weeks later they did, all 169 of them.... it was really cool to watch, they attually eat their way out!
since then i have found homes for about 30 of them and still working on it, they are growing rapidly!
the basic care of giant african land snails...
you need a tank - with a lid and holes in, soil - not from the garden, preferably compost with peat and NO pestisides, cuttlefish should be avaliable at all times as essential for their shells and they need to be sprayed daily and given plenty of fruit and veg firm favourites being lettuce and of course cucumber.
they like to be kept warm and most and if they get too cold they will hibernate and apparenty rarely come out of it.
my girls just love holding and watching them, far more intresting then looking at garden snails and having to release them!
I first got in to the idea of keeping GALS (giant African land snails) as pets when my little boy brought the class pet's home one weekend and he loved them so much he cried when we had to give them back.
So after a bit of research on how easy they are to keep I ordered 3 of eBay would you believe? Apparently it is ok to sell them on there as they don't count as animals but pet food and bait! Anyway the 3 I brought cost me a total of 12.00 after postage and stuff. But I know some pet shops are apparently giving them away!
They arrived safely packaged in a special delivery container. And were moved into their new home which is small aquarium used for goldfish. They need very little care you just need to make sure they have soil to burrow in food to eat, which consists of mainly greens their favorite is definitely cucumber. But wow they sure have an appetite between them they can demolish a whole cucumber in a little over a day! They are very fascinating to watch as they eat you can actually see there mouth chow down on their lunch and hear them crunch  they also need some form of calcium such as a lump of natural chalk or a cuttle fish bone. They need the calcium in these to help their shell grow. The Variety we have are the Giant East African Snail (Achatina fulica), which grow to about20cm. But please note if you live in The USA it is illegal to have these creatures as pets because they are a agriculture pest and can easily devastate huge amount of crops if lest loose.
Their life span is surprisingly long and if looked after properly they can live for over 10 years.
Handling them is a weird sensation and quite fun but must be done carefully it is best to wet your hands first before you pick the up. Each one of my 3 snails seems to have a different character about them as strange as that seems they are very individual creatures.
i own two snails. well when i say that i do i mean that my boyfriend does as he is the one who looks after them and cleans them out, i just buy the cucumber.
they are called bryan and gary. we were inspired by the magic round about and sponge bob square pants. we thought that they were appropriate.
well we have had ours for about a year or so and we both agree with the other reviews that they each have personalities as bryan seems to be the adventurous one and gary the more subdued or lazy. But however gary did lay some eggs not so long ago and at first we had no idea what he was doing as we thought there maybe something wrong a he had totally gone off his food and hadn't eaten for two or more weeks. but after he layed he did sit on the cuttle fish( the same thing that birds have to keep there beaks in good condition)for a week afterwards. cuttlefish are easy to get hold of and they don't breakthe bank as they ost less than a pound around sixty pence, but for those of you that can't afford that i have heard that egg shells work but they have to be baked for 20 mins in the oven.
when we first got them, they were not very big and we kept them in an ice cream tub for the first two days until the pet shop was open then we bought a glass fish tank put a thin layer of stones to allow water to drain from the surface, then a layer of compost (grow bags are great they lat about a year), we then tried some moss that was for reptiles but we got mites and it took us about six months to get rid of them completly as we would think that we had got rid of them then they would just come back again. so we just stuck with the soil and stones. At one point we did try bark but bryan and gary would not set foot upon it so we had to go back to the tried and tested. they love cucumber and do honetly only eat the middle, but also love midget gems but the inner leaves are their fav.
Since we got them they have out grown their friends were they came from and are about twice the size and when fully extended their foot is about 10 inches (28cm) their shells are about 6 inches(10cm) they are facinating to watch and hypnotising when you watch the wave of their foot when they climb up the glass.
so i guess what i am saying is that they are great pets and so easy and low effort to maintain animals that are great for kids and adults and a great alternative to the classic gold fish.
Giant african land snails are realy easy to care for pets and ideal for young children.
They can grow to over 30cm long excluding the head if looked after properly.
They have both male and female sex organs, this doesnt mean that one can breed on its own you will still need 2 but they dont have to be a male and female pair like most animals.
They eat fruit and veg, you will need to wash this before feeding it to them and will need to dust it with calcium to help there shells to grow healthily.
A glass fish tank with soil in the bottom is ideal for keeping snails in, you will need to spray your tank daily to keep it moist.
These snails as the name sugests come from a warmer climate than ours so please do not try to put them out side to live, they need a temperature of 20 to 25'c which will be room temp during the summer but i would recomend a heat mat in the winter.
Snails will try to hibernate if they get too cold or too dry, this isnt good for them as they dont have enough fat stores to survive.
When they hibernate they tuck there heads in and grow a film over the opening, to bring them out of hibernation you will need to peel that film off.
These need to have there shells washed once a week, i put mine in a bucket of warm water and gently wash there shells with a soft tooth brush.
These pets are realy easy to look after and enjoy being handled but do leave a trail of slime behind. They live for around 5 years and only cost about £1 to buy
my african snails are getting big now, brilliant to watch they grow realy fast but still want to know can my baby snails have babys since there only 2 weeks old can they mate and have babies now??? please tell me sum one. my snails have a diet of snail mix and fruit and veg brilliant pets reccomend to anyone! great for little kids first pets under supervision, they are very cheap thease days as well so there easy pets. also to add on even though mine are only a inch maybe a inch and half in legnth they hide away under the compost in the tank for ages and are hard to find, but this is a warning never pick them up with dry hands as they dont like it and may hide away. if you are wanting them to come out of their shells when they are hiding away spray some WARM water over them and around them, and before handling them damp your hands with warm water not hot or not cold.the snails have differant patterns on there shell and can grow up to a cm every day. once i left the lid open and lots escaped i found them the next day in a cupboard.So what do snails eat?
Well mine usually eat lettuce or cucumber but they only eat the middle of the cucumber, mine enjoy a little bath every morning and night only a few mm deep though so they dont drown, theyalso eat apple bannana and any other fruit or veg they arnt kean on root vegtables though like carrot or potato. holding them- holding them is very simple making sure you dont pick them up by the new growth of the shell, which by the way is the part of the shell nearest the head, if they are on the side of the tank spray some water onto them and slowly pick them up or slide them to the edge of the tank as it will be easier to pick up. what they cant have- salt they can have a bit of salt in foods but make sure its under 0.5g of salt before giving them it. they also cant have white bread as it has traces of lots of salt, but they can have soaked brown bread which mine have ocasionally as a treat.dont give them milk as it makes them ill and curl right up into there shell and not come out for at least 2 days which makes them not eating or drinking. what should you keep them in- any plastic container which is ventalated and quite warm, in winter or autumn they may need a heat mat under the tank if you do not have central heating, dont place the tank near the radiator either as the moisture in the tank will dry out and the snails wont like it. buying them- if you are wanting to buy a african snail make sure its been breaded in england as if it is shipped from abroad they may be harmful paracites or desises on them, such as the menangitus as most paracites carry it. they dont cost much thease days some pet stores may even give them away for free including air ports where they get lots every day making them re home them due to they can not go abroad. where can you take african snails- you cant take afriican snails into the u.s america as they have lately banned it and if you get caught with them in america its a very big fine, but apart from that or any other illegal country you may take them anywhere freely making sure they have renough food for the journey and the substrate is damp enough. how to lay out the tank- you may lay out the tank any way you want making sure theres enough food and cuttle fish also having at least 2 inches of substrate such as compost or bark or sand. make sure they have a little dish full of water as they grow up which is only a few millimeters full if its past the breathing hole (under the shell) they can drown. make sure they have a hiding place in the tank as they like to hide away alot. you may find some of them missing at times but they probaly have burried themselves in the substrate, dont try to go burying for them as it will make a mess and the snail will just go burying again. wat doesnt the snails like- you may find that african snails hide away if you make a loud noise, this is because the sound waves hurt them and they dont like it. try to keep the noise to a minimum in the room there in. happy sliming :D
Why do I own a snail?
Well its simple, my husband wanted a spider which will NEVER happen (too many legs though how we got a millipede I dont know). I think its good to have some more unusual animals in the house especially when you have kids. I even take mine to my kids pre-school and show them and do talks about them. It isnt my first though when Im asked about my ideal pet but I have grown to love Les Cargo and in his/her own way he/shes kinda cute. Why do I say his/her and he/she?? Snails are hermaphrodites meaning that they have both male and female reproductive organs.
Where can they live?
All you need is a tank glass or plastic in an area not too hot or cold. The ideal temperature for a snails tank is between 18 degrees Celsius and 29 degrees Celsius (ideal temperature is between 21-23 degrees Celsius). It may be handy to have a heat mat for in the winter but then how many of us let our homes get that cold in the winter anyway? In the tank you should place a couple of inches deep of peat, compost or bark. I use potting compost. Its best not to just dig up the garden as there may be parasites and things in it. This needs to be changed on a weekly basis (or more or less depending on how many snails you have and how big the tank is). I also have a few decorative items like silk plants from the pet shop (fish section) and a plant pot for Les to hide in, a few twigs and stones etc.
So what do snails eat?
Well mine usually gets lettuce (though not iceberg as its too watery we use round lettuce) cucumber, apple, banana and most other fruit and veg. Just remember to wash all food before giving to the snails. They also need a cuttle bone to strengthen their shell. Another thing to keep in emergencies is tortoise food. Mine either has it dry on a lettuce leaf or soaked in its water. You dont need to provide water as theyll get all they need from their food and spraying the tank and keeping the peat moist. I also however have a small pool of water in my tank which Les seems to like.
Snails are very easy to handle but you need to take a little care! Make sure that you don't hold the shell by the delicate part at the base where the new growth joins on to the existing shell - this corner is a particularly delicate area. If you do damage the shell - don't panic - snails have an amazing ability to repair it (which is why the calcium is so important)! To get a snail off the side of the tank spray the snail with water then gently slip your finger under his head then using both hands slide your finger under all the way under his whole body, while GENTLY pulling him off with your other hand. If he won't come, don't force him! Prepare to be slimed! :-)
Giant African Land Snails (often abbreviated to GALS) make fascinating, and easy to care for pets, with a range of different species with similar needs, which I'll try to outline here.
*** WHAT SPECIES ARE THERE? ***
Ranging from the small achatina iredalei to the massive achatina achatina (Tiger Snail), there are various species kept as pets in the UK. Some are more rare than others, with lissachatina fulica, and archachatina marginata (commonly called "margies") being two of the most commonly kept species, and probably the easiest to care for - making them ideal "starter" species.
Lissachatina fulica reach adult shell sizes of up to 14cm, although 10cm is a more average size. They are the most common species kept as pets in the UK and are amazingly diverse in colouring, shape and size. Requiring less than other GALS in the way of specialist care, heating, etc, they are very easy to care for and thrive in most situations. They are prolific breeders, laying around 100 eggs at a time of about 3-6mm in size. This is how they have become so common in the UK, with lots ending up in rescues. This is easily avoided with proper care (see below).
Archachatina marginata are another commonly kept species of GALS. There are 3 variants of this species - ovum, marginata, and suturalis. They range in adult size from approximately 9cm (suturalis) to 17cm (ovum and marginata), and there are even "white fleshed" snails of this species. Archachatina marginatas prefer warmer and more humid conditions to lissachatina fulica, but are generally hardy. Being an Archachatina species, they lay less, and larger, eggs than Achatina species, commonly laying a batch of approximately 10 eggs of around 2cm in size. Many snail-keepers now keep rescue margies from Brixton Market (sold as food) - if this is of interest to you, you can visit the PetSnails or Cybersnail forum (see below), where lots of Brixton margie owners visit, for advice.
Information on other species of GALS can be found at The World of Snails, PetSnails and Achatina.ru (again, see below)
*** WHAT DO I NEED TO HOUSE SNAILS? ***
The first thing you need to arrange for your snails is suitable accommodation. Large plastic storage boxes, glass fish tanks and vivariums are popular choices with snail-keepers. The set-up needs to have aeration but be able to retain the heat and moisture, which is why many snail-keepers prefer storage boxes over the glass tanks, which lose heat quite easily. As for the size of tank, it'll depend on the species you pick - below is a link to a tank calculator, which will give you a rough guide.
Recommended substrates for the bottom of the set-up are organic compost, coir, and sphagnum moss, to a depth of at least 5cm - deeper for larger species. You can also use capillary matting (available in garden centres for holding moisture for plants) for lining the bottom of your set-up, but make sure you provide something suitable for your snails to dig in - a large tub of moss or compost is ideal.
You need to be able to keep the substrate clean and damp (but not soaking wet) - it's worth asking other snail owners what substrate they use and make your decision based on what suits your snails. You'll need a spray bottle of water (with or without calcium drops to aid snail shells) for keeping the tank moist.
Decorating your set-up and making it more interesting/natural for your snails can be fun to do too. Adding fake plants, plant pots (plastic), cork bark, etc can make a great difference to your set-up, and to your snails enjoyment of life. However, when choosing ornaments for your tank, make sure to steer clear of hard items such as stones, clay/terracotta pots, etc as these can cause great injury to a snail should they fall from the lid.
Some species need a bit more warmth (and some of us live in colder houses), and the use of a heatmat is one solution. Some people also position tanks close to radiators to provide warmth, although obviously in summer this might not be the best method.
*** WHAT DO SNAILS EAT? ***
A GALS' diet consists mainly of various fruits and vegetables, and a calcium source, such as cuttlefish bone. The calcium is very important as a snail needs this to keep his shell growing nicely, and in good condition. It's very important when choosing foods for your snails to consider whether harmful pesticides have been used, and to wash all food thoroughly before giving it to your snails.
*Some safe foods*
Porridge (made with hot water and cooled, fed quite wet)
*Foods to avoid*
Pasta (bloats snails and can kill)
The onion family (including garlic, leeks, etc)
Anything treated with chemicals
*** WHAT ABOUT BREEDING? ***
Contrary to popular belief, snails cannot fertilise themselves, and need a partner. Snails of the genus Achatina (eg. lissachatina fulica, achatina smithii, etc) lay large clutches of eggs when mature enough (which differs from snail to snail). Snails of the genus Archachatina lay smaller clutches of larger eggs. Achatina iredalei are the odd one out - they do not lay eggs, but give birth directly to little babies, making them difficult to keep in pairs if you do not wish to breed (you can soon become over-run). Eggs take between 2 and 8 weeks to hatch, dependant on species and conditions.
If you do not wish to hatch baby snails, the best thing to do is check regularly for eggs, and as and when they're laid, bag them up (making sure you get them all) and put them in the freezer to prevent them maturing and hatching.
It's worth considering whether or not you feel it is right to hatch eggs. Species such as lissachatina fulica are incredibly common and it is easy to adopt unwanted snails from rescues and other snail-keepers. If you do decide to hatch some for yourself, freeze the unwanted eggs to prevent becoming over-run, and visit the forums listed below for advice.
*** WHAT DO I NEED TO DO REGULARLY TO KEEP MY SNAILS HAPPY AND HEALTHY? ***
Daily checks of both the snails and their surroundings is very important. Keeping their home clean of their waste, leftover food, etc, and checking for eggs should become a daily procedure. Full tank cleans should be done regularly too (although daily would be over the top!).
Check your snails aren't retracted into their shells too far (a sign of illness, infestation and/or starvation) and that they have no injuries to their shells. Check regularly for parasites such as mites (seen as moving white dots on your snail, often congregating around the breathing hole).
Spray your snails' home regularly, at least daily if not more frequently. Do not allow the tank to dry out, or become waterlogged.
Should your snail not seem well, or have an injury, please seek advice ASAP.
*** WHAT ABOUT HANDLING MY SNAILS? ***
Handling should be done carefully, and if you're allowing children to handle them, you need to be extra careful, and supervise closely. Be especially careful when picking your snail up not to poke your finger through the edge of their shell, where the newest growth is. You snail is particularly delicate here. Pulling snails off the sides of the tanks roughly can injure them too. If your snail is welded onto the side of the tank, spray them with a little water before trying to remove them to pick them up (sliding them gently to the edge is a safer bet). Remember to wash your hands carefully before and after handling your snails.
*** WHERE CAN I FIND SNAILS TO BUY/REHOME? ***
Lissachatina fulica seem to be getting more common in rescues now, due to their prolific breeding, but snails are also available on eBay and the likes (buyer beware) and even through internet forums from other collectors, which is probably a safer route than supporting the over-breeding of inbred fulicas by buying from eBay shops.
Cost will depend on species and whether they're captive bred. Fulicas shouldn't cost more than a bit of postage really, although commercial sellers on eBay may charge for them. No more than £1 for baby snails, or £5 for an adult, but there will be loads advertised for free on many of the snail forums. Margies will cost from £2 to £10 depending on age, size and whether it's wild caught or captive bred. "White fleshed" margies retail for around £10.
Feel free to contact me for help and advice on obtaining snails :o)
http://www.petsnails.co.uk/ - a great site with a forum and information such as the snail calculator and species pictures.
http://snails2die4.proboards31.com/ - Snails2Die4 is a great forum for snail (both land and aquatic) advice.
http://www.freewebs.com/worldofsnails/ - a great site for information on different species (with pics).
http://www.achatina.ru - a fantastic site with lots of photosof different species.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cybersnail/ - the Cybersnail email group - handy for finding snails to buy/rehome and for advice on their care.
*** SUMMARY ***
Highly addictive, cheap to care for and fun to scare your less hardy friends with, snails are fantastic pets for many homes. Yes you get a bit of slime, but you don't have to take them for a walk, neuter them or pay through the nose even for the "fancier" species. All in all they make great pets!
Size: Up to 30 cm / Habitat: Mainly forest