Mystery Snails Pomacea diffusa and one Pomacea bridgesii
Two Pomacea diffusa and one Pomacea bridgesii fighting over some food., Image by Soulkeeper From Wikimedia Commons

Snails as Pets: Everything You Need To Know

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Snails as Pets are great idea. Its can make great pets for people who are looking for something different, low-maintenance, and relaxing. Snails are easy to care for, don’t need a lot of space, make no noise, and are interesting to watch as they glide along their terrarium.

However, snails are not very interactive and some people may think of them as pests or food. Snails also have some specific needs that you should be aware of before deciding to keep them as pets.

Snails as Pets
Photo copyright from newsliveflorida.com

Benefits Keeping Snails as Pets

Snails have many advantages as pets, such as:

– They are quiet and don’t disturb you or your neighbors
– They don’t shed or smell
– They don’t require a lot of space or equipment
– They don’t need to be walked or groomed
– They are relaxing to watch as they move slowly and peacefully
– They are inexpensive to buy and maintain
– They can live for several years with proper care

Disadvantages Keeping Snails as Pets

However, snails also have some disadvantages as pets, such as:

– They are nocturnal or crepuscular, meaning they are most active at night or dawn and dusk
– They are not very interactive or affectionate
– They can be delicate and easily harmed by rough handling or environmental stress
– They can carry parasites or diseases that can affect humans or other animals
– They can escape from their enclosure if it is not secure enough
– They can reproduce quickly and become invasive if released into the wild

Mystery Snails Pomacea diffusa and one Pomacea bridgesii
Two Pomacea diffusa and one Pomacea bridgesii fighting over some food., Image by Soulkeeper From Wikimedia Commons

Best Types to Keep Snails as Pets

There are thousands of different types of snails in the world, but not all of them are suitable for keeping as pets. Some snails are too large, too small, too rare, too endangered, or too illegal to keep in captivity.

The most common type of snail kept as a pet is the brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum, previously Helix aspersa), which is native to Europe but has been introduced to many other regions of the world. This snail has a brown shell with dark bands or spots and can grow up to 1.5 inches in diameter. It is also known as the European brown snail, the common garden snail, or the edible snail (as it is often served as escargot in French cuisine).

The brown garden snail is easy to find in pet stores or online, or you can even collect some from your own garden (but make sure they are not exposed to pesticides or other chemicals). However, you should be careful not to release them into the wild, as they can become invasive and damage crops or native plants.

Another popular type of snail kept as a pet is the giant African land snail (Lissachatina fulica, previously Achatina fulica), which is native to Africa but has been introduced to many other regions of the world. This snail has a brown shell with light stripes and can grow up to 6 inches in length. It is also known as the giant tiger land snail, the giant East African land snail, or the giant Ghana tiger snail.

The giant African land snail is impressive in size and appearance, but it is also very illegal to keep in many countries, including the United States. This is because it is considered one of the most invasive species in the world, capable of destroying crops, spreading diseases, and outcompeting native wildlife. If you are caught with one of these snails, you could face hefty fines or even jail time.

Therefore, we do not recommend keeping giant African land snails as pets unless you live in a country where they are legal and regulated. If you do decide to keep one, you should be very responsible and never release it into the wild or give it away to someone else.

Gold Mystery Snails
Apple Snail / Gold Mystery Snails, Image by User MdE From Wikimedia Commons

Other types of snails that can be kept as pets include:

Apple snails (Pomacea spp)

which are freshwater snails that have bright colors and can grow up to 6 inches in diameter. They are also known as mystery snails, golden apple snails, or ivory snails. They are popular in aquariums, but they can also be kept in a terrarium with a water dish. However, they can be invasive and harmful to aquatic plants and animals if released into the wild.

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Roman snails (Helix pomatia)

which are terrestrial snails that have a white or yellow shell with brown stripes and can grow up to 2 inches in diameter. They are also known as Burgundy snails, edible snails, or escargot snails. They are native to Europe but have been introduced to other regions of the world. They are considered a delicacy in some countries, but they are also protected by law in others. They are rare and expensive to buy as pets, but they can be kept in a terrarium with a moist substrate and a calcium source.

Banded snails (Cepaea spp.)

which are terrestrial snails that have a variable shell color and pattern, ranging from yellow to brown to pink with dark bands or spots. They can grow up to 1 inch in diameter. They are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced to other regions of the world. They are common and easy to find in gardens or fields, but they can also be bought from pet stores or online. They can be kept in a terrarium with a moist substrate and a calcium source.

Mystery Snails Tank Mates
Mystery Snails Tank Mates, Photo copyright from shutterstock.com

How to Set Up a Suitable Snail Habitat

Snails need a comfortable and secure habitat to live in, where they can find food, water, shelter, and mates. The size and type of the habitat will depend on the number and species of snails you have, but in general, you will need the following:

– A glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid that has ventilation holes. The container should be large enough to allow your snails to move around freely and explore different areas. A good rule of thumb is to provide at least 1 gallon of space per snail. You can use an aquarium, a terrarium, a plastic storage box, or even a large jar as long as it is clean and transparent.

– A moist substrate that covers the bottom of the container. The substrate should be organic and pesticide-free, such as peat moss, coconut fiber, potting soil, or leaf litter. You can also add some pieces of bark, wood, or rocks to create hiding places and climbing surfaces for your snails. The substrate should be kept moist but not wet, as snails need humidity to breathe and prevent dehydration. You can mist the substrate with water every day or every other day depending on the climate.

– A water dish that provides fresh and clean water for your snails to drink and bathe in. The water dish should be shallow and wide enough for your snails to access easily without drowning. You can use a small saucer, a bottle cap, or a plastic lid as long as it is clean and stable. You should change the water every day or every other day to prevent algae growth and contamination.

– A calcium source that provides essential minerals for your snails’ shell growth and health. Snails need calcium to build strong shells that protect them from predators and injuries. You can provide calcium by adding crushed eggshells, cuttlebone, oyster shells, or limestone to the substrate or the water dish. You can also buy calcium supplements from pet stores or online that are specially formulated for snails.

– A light source that mimics the natural day and night cycle for your snails. Snails are nocturnal or crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active at night or dawn and dusk. Therefore, they need a dark environment during the day and a dim light during the night. You can use natural sunlight or artificial lighting to create this cycle, but make sure the temperature does not get too hot or too cold for your snails. The ideal temperature range for most snails is between 65°F and 75°F.

Snails as Pets
Photo copyright from aquariumcarebasics.com

Feeding Your Snails and How Often

Snails are herbivorous animals, meaning they eat plants and plant matter. Snails have a radula, which is a tongue-like organ with tiny teeth that they use to scrape off food from surfaces.

Snails are not picky eaters and will eat almost any kind of vegetable, fruit, leaf, flower, or fungus that you offer them. However, some foods are better than others for their nutrition and digestion.

Some of the best foods for snails include:

– Lettuce
– Cucumber
– Zucchini
– Carrot
– Apple
– Banana
– Grape
– Strawberry
– Dandelion
– Clover
– Nettle
– Mushroom

Some of the foods that you should avoid feeding your snails include:

– Onion
– Garlic
– Citrus fruits
– Spicy foods
– Salty foods
– Processed foods
– Meat
– Dairy products

You should feed your snails once a day or every other day depending on their appetite and activity level. You should provide a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet and prevent boredom. You should also wash and chop the foods into small pieces to make them easier for your snails to eat.

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You should place the food on a shallow dish or a piece of paper towel to prevent it from spoiling the substrate or attracting pests. You should remove any uneaten food after 24 hours to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

Colombian Giant Ramshorn Snails
Colombian Giant Ramshorn Snails, Photo copyright from fishkeeper.co.uk

How to Handle Your Snails Safely and Gently

Snails are generally safe to handle, but there are some precautions you should take to avoid harming them or yourself.

Before handling your snails, you should:

– Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any dirt, oil, lotion, or chemicals that could harm your snails or their shells.
– Wet your hands slightly to create a moist and smooth surface for your snails to crawl on.
– Be gentle and patient with your snails, as they may be shy or scared at first.

To pick up your snails, you should:

– Never pull or pry them off their shell or the substrate, as this could damage their foot or mantle (the tissue that connects their body to their shell).
– Wait until they retract into their shell or gently tap their shell to encourage them to do so.
– Lift them by their shell with your thumb and index finger, making sure not to squeeze too hard or drop them.
– Place them on your palm or another flat surface and let them come out of their shell at their own pace.

To put down your snails, you should:

– Never throw or toss them into their habitat, as this could injure them or crack their shell.
– Gently place them on the substrate or a piece of food and let them attach themselves.
– Wash your hands again with soap and water to remove any slime or bacteria that could cause infections or allergies.

Gold Mystery Snail
Gold Mystery Snail, Photo copyright from amazon.com

How to Keep Your Snails Healthy and Happy

Snails are relatively easy to care for, but they still need some attention and maintenance to ensure their well-being. Some of the things you should do to keep your snails healthy and happy include:

– Cleaning their habitat regularly to remove any waste, debris, or spoiled food that could cause odors, diseases, or pests. You can use a small brush, a spoon, or a pair of tweezers to scoop out any unwanted items. You can also replace some of the substrate with fresh one every week or every month depending on how dirty it gets.

– Checking their shells for any cracks, chips, holes, or infections that could affect their health or comfort. You can use a magnifying glass or a flashlight to inspect their shells closely. If you notice any problems, you can try to fix them with some glue, epoxy, or nail polish, or consult a vet for advice.

– Observing their behavior for any signs of stress, illness, or injury that could indicate something is wrong. Some of the signs to look out for include:

– Lethargy: Your snails are not moving much or staying in their shell for long periods of time.
– Loss of appetite: Your snails are not eating much or rejecting their favorite foods.
– Discoloration: Your snails’ shells or bodies are changing color or becoming dull or pale.
– Parasites: Your snails have tiny worms, mites, flies, or other creatures on or in them.
– Fungus: Your snails have white, fuzzy, or slimy growths on their shells or bodies.

If you notice any of these signs, you should try to identify and eliminate the cause of the problem. You can also isolate the affected snail from the others and provide extra care and attention. If the problem persists or worsens, you should seek professional help from a vet.

Tiger Nerite Snail
Tiger Nerite Snail, Photo copyright from aquaticarts.com

Frequently Asked Questions About Snails as Pets : Snail Care

Here are some of the most common questions that people have about snail care and their answers:

How many snails can I keep together?

Snails are social animals that enjoy the company of other snails. However, they can also reproduce very quickly and overcrowd their habitat if there are too many of them. Therefore, you should limit the number of snails you keep together according to the size of your container and the species of your snails.

A good rule of thumb is to keep one snail per gallon of space for small snails (less than 1 inch in diameter) and one snail per 2 gallons of space for large snails (more than 1 inch in diameter). You can also keep different species of snails together as long as they have similar needs and don’t compete or harm each other.

How can I tell the gender of my snails?

Snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. However, they cannot self-fertilize and need another snail of the same species to mate with. Snails can mate with any other snail regardless of their gender, but they usually prefer to act as males or females depending on their size, age, and condition.

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It is very difficult to tell the gender of snails by looking at them, as their reproductive organs are hidden inside their bodies. The only way to tell for sure is to observe them during mating, when they extend their organs out of their shells. The male organ is a long and thin tube that comes out of the right side of the head, while the female organ is a short and thick tube that comes out of the left side of the body.

How do snails reproduce and how can I prevent it?

Snails reproduce by exchanging sperm with another snail of the same species. They can mate multiple times with different partners and store the sperm for later use. They can also produce eggs without mating if they have been exposed to sperm before.

Snails lay eggs in clusters of 20 to 100 in moist and dark places, such as under the substrate, inside a hollow log, or behind a rock. The eggs are small and white and look like grains of rice. They hatch after 2 to 4 weeks depending on the temperature and humidity.

If you don’t want your snails to reproduce, you can try to prevent it by:

– Keeping only one snail or snails of different species that cannot interbreed
– Removing any eggs that you find in the habitat and disposing of them safely
– Feeding your snails less protein and more calcium to reduce their fertility and increase their shell growth
– Lowering the temperature and humidity in the habitat to slow down their metabolism and activity

How long do snails live?

The lifespan of snails depends on many factors, such as their species, diet, environment, health, and genetics. In general, most snails live for 2 to 3 years in captivity, but some can live longer or shorter depending on their conditions.

Some of the factors that can affect the lifespan of snails include:

– Temperature: Snails prefer a moderate temperature range between 65°F and 75°F. If the temperature is too high or too low, it can stress them out and shorten their lifespan.
– Humidity: Snails need a humid environment to breathe and prevent dehydration. If the humidity is too low or too high, it can dry them out or cause fungal infections.
– Food: Snails need a varied and balanced diet to get all the nutrients they need for growth and health. If they are overfed or underfed, it can cause obesity or malnutrition.
– Calcium: Snails need calcium to build strong shells that protect them from predators and injuries. If they don’t get enough calcium, their shells can become weak or deformed.
– Stress: Snails are sensitive to stress from environmental changes, predators, parasites, diseases, injuries, or overcrowding. If they are exposed to too much stress, it can lower their immunity and shorten their lifespan.

How do snails breathe?

Snails breathe through a special organ called a lung, which is located inside their mantle cavity (the space between their body and their shell). The lung is connected to a small opening on the right side of their head called a pneumostome, which they open and close to inhale and exhale air.

Snails also have gills, which are thin membranes that allow them to absorb oxygen from water. However, most terrestrial snails have reduced or lost their gills over time and rely mainly on their lung for breathing. Some aquatic snails have retained or developed their gills and use them as their primary breathing organ.

How do snails sleep?

Snails sleep by retracting into their shell and closing it with a thin layer of mucus called an epiphragm. This protects them from predators, dehydration, and temperature changes while they rest.

Snails have a circadian rhythm that follows the natural day and night cycle. They are usually active at night or dawn and dusk when it is cooler and darker, and sleep during the day when it is hotter and brighter.

However, snails can also sleep whenever they feel tired or stressed regardless of the time of day. They can sleep for several hours or days at a time depending on their needs. Snails can also enter a state of dormancy called estivation or hibernation when the conditions are unfavorable for them, such as extreme heat or cold. In this state, they reduce their metabolism and activity to conserve energy until the conditions improve.

Assassin Snails for Sale
Photo copyright by Daniel Keeping Fish from youtube.com

Conclusion : Snails as Pets

Snails are amazing animals that can make great pets for people who are looking for something different, low-maintenance, and relaxing. Snails are easy to care for, don’t need a lot of space, make no noise, and are interesting to watch as they glide along their terrarium.

However, snails are not very interactive and some people may think of them as pests or food. Snails also have some specific needs that you should be aware of before deciding to keep them as pets. You should provide them with a suitable habitat, a varied diet, a calcium source, a light source, and a gentle handling. You should also monitor their health, behavior, and reproduction and seek professional help if needed.

We hope this article has given you a comprehensive and informative guide on snail care. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading and happy snail keeping!