How to Take Care of Snails

Great Tips on How to Take Care of Slimy and Slow-moving Snails

Snails are harmless creatures and you can handle them with equanimity, as long as you take care to do it gently. This article provides some tips on snail care.
If you want a non-fussy pet that makes no din, prefers a slow-paced lifestyle, and is easy to take care of, then you should consider getting yourself a snail. There are various local and exotic snail species that can be kept as pets, although you'll probably need to check your country's regulations regarding some exotic breeds; for instance, Giant African Land snails are banned in Canada and the USA.

Some Interesting Facts
  • Many snails can live up to 8 to 10 years, so you will be making a long-term commitment. If you're not sure that snails will fascinate you for this long, get a local species that can be easily released into the wild.
  • Snails are hermaphrodites. That is, one single snail is both male and female. Yet, most need to mate to produce eggs. Some are, however, capable of self-reproduction.
  • A single snail can lay 200-400 eggs every season. It's not possible to keep so many and it can be detrimental to the environment to release them into the wild, so most owners destroy the eggs.
  • The slime that they produce helps them glide across surfaces.
  • They have fleshy mouths, and tiny teeth are found in thousands on the tongue.
  • You can tell a healthy snail by a clean, unbroken shell and an even, smooth body.
  • They like to interact with others of their species, so you can keep several as pets. It's best not to keep local and exotic species together, however, as they can infect each other or cross-breed. Some common species are the common Garden snail and the Green snail, whereas some exotic species are the Apple snail and the Giant African snail.
  • These are harmless creatures and you can handle them with equanimity, as long as you are gentle and don't pick them up by the shell. It's much better to slide your finger under their body or to offer them food and let them climb on it and then pick up the food and snail together. Also, remember to wash your hands before and after handing them.
You can keep your pet snails in a well-ventilated, clear plastic or glass aquarium with a secure lid; the clear sides of the aquarium will let in plenty of light which the snails need, and the secure lid will keep them from escaping. These are surprisingly strong animals and can lift weights almost 50 times their body weight, so if the lid is not secure, they will probably be able to lift it and escape.

Keep the aquarium in a safe place where it is not likely to be easily overturned, does not catch too much direct sunlight and strong winds, and is not exposed to heat from radiators or any kind of chemical spraying. Place thick substrate - cocoa fibers, coir, peat, etc - on the aquarium floor, and make sure that it is always damp, not too wet. Provide nooks and crannies for your pet to hide under and bark and obstacles for climbing. To maintain a 60-70% humidity in the aquarium, keep a dish of water in it and also spray the inside with water every few days. Remember to clean the aquarium, put in new substrate, and wash the snails on a weekly basis. Wash with clean water, never with detergents.

Diet

Snails eat a wide variety of foods in the wild and you can follow this kind of diet in captivity. Given below is a list.
  • Leaves
  • Grass
  • Fruits
  • Barks
  • Leafy Green Vegetables
  • Calcium
Remember to thoroughly wash all the vegetables and fruits and rid them of all pesticides or chemicals before you feed them to your pet. Also, remove all the food that is not consumed within a day or two, as otherwise, it will rot and encourage the growth of pests and mites. For calcium, which snails need to repair or replenish their shells, you can place pieces of cuttlefish bone, chalk, egg-shells, or baby milk powder. Snails don't need to drink water - they absorb the water they need from the humidity in the atmosphere - but they do seem to like sitting in it. Place a shallow water dish in the aquarium so that they can sit in it without drowning; the water, as already mentioned, will also maintain the humidity in the aquarium.
Advertisement