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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Pets 'n' Stuff | Snail Care Tips

"To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge."
Benjamin Disraeli

If you read my last post you'll be aware that three months ago my Giant African Land Snails surprised me with some itty bitty babies. If you haven't read that post you can check it out here. I had been planning to do a GALS care post for a while but with the arrival of these little ones I decided to wait until around the time they were ready for re-homing. Kill two birds with one stone. Write my post and also use it to inform prospective new snail owners. It's important to mention that this is just how I personally care for my snails. Other's may do things differently. If you want to source information from different owners you should check out this snail forum.


The species of my snails are Achatina Fulica and as such this care may be more applicable to them than other species. So keep that in mind.

Equipment

This is a set up I was making for some smaller snails (minus a heat mat)

Owning snails can be relatively cheap. You need the biggest tank you can afford to house them in. There must be plenty of room for them to move around and explore. The tank may be a glass, plastic or what I personally use is a large Tupperware box from IKEA with holes drilled in the lid. With these you really get a great size for little money. It also means you can buy a smaller one and gradually move them up in size as your snail grows. I found this better when housing small snails as when they burrow in the soil it can be hard to find them in larger tanks. Other things you need are:

- Soil. I personally use coir though others feel top soil is better as coir can hold mould. Do NOT use soil from the garden as there's a risk of pesticides etc. 

- A hide. Snails like dark, damp places so you should have at least one hide. I use a plastic plant pot. Plastic is preferable as if the snail falls on to something hard like ceramic it could damage it's shell and potentially prove fatal.

- Food and water dish. All snails need a food dish but a water dish will be up to your discretion. As the tank must be kept humid, while the snail is small it is safer to let them get water from the environment. Dishes are a drowning risk. Once the snail is older and bigger it is safer to have a shallow dish of water. Again, it will be up to you to decide. 

- Other decorations. You can use a mixture of other decorations to make the tank more exciting. You can use soft fake plants, wood (cork is the most mould/rot resistant) or non-toxic live plants. Though be aware that snails WILL eat these so don't be too dismayed if plants disappear within a day. It is important to wash anything you put in the tank. With fake plants, anything plastic or wood use boiling water to kill any bacteria. With plants at least run them under the tap. 

- A low wattage heat mat. These are available in pet stores or online. They're also available in different sizes. Although Achatina Fulica need dryer tanks than some they still need a damp, humid tank. The safest place to place a heat mat is on the side on the outside of the tank using tape. 

- A spray bottle. Your tank will need spritzed with water at least once daily to stop it from drying out.

Example set up

Diet

There is a large variety of fruit and vegetables that snails can eat so I'm not going to name them all. It is important they are given a variety of both to stop them becoming fussy and also access to cuttlefish. Cuttlefish gives them calcium to maintain a healthy and strong shell. If you're unsure about anything you're going to feed your snail it's always safest to Google it first to double check. I also feed my snails a mix I buy on Ebay. It comes as a powder which you mix it with water. It is formulated to promote shell growth and the snails just love it. 


Other Care

I replace food and water daily as well as spritz the tank with water. 

Every 3 to 4 days I check for eggs by sifting through the soil. When I find some I remove them and put them in a Tupperware box, then put them in the freezer for 48 hours before binning them. As well as checking for eggs I remove any waste and do a general tidy of the tank. I also usually rinse off the decorations in the tank and wipe down the sides. It's important not to use any washing products as chemicals may harm your snails. Over-cleaning may also impact your snails health as they need a certain amount of bacteria to digest their food properly. So keep that in mind when cleaning. 

Around once a week I bathe my snails. This keeps them fresh and keeps any mites etc at bay. There's a number of ways you can bathe them but I personally run the tap lightly at lukewarm temperature and hold them near the water. More often than not they'll dip their head under it like a shower. Then I move them under the water to rinse any dirt off. My snails really enjoy this and you can usually tell when they've lost interest. You can also bathe them in a shallow dish of lukewarm water but you must be careful the water doesn't cover their breathing hole.
Occasionally you may find other bugs living with your snails. Little tiny black dots that run about or little clear worms. Most of the time these are nothing to worry about but can be annoying. The best way to combat this is removing old food and poop frequently as well as changing out the soil/coir. How often you need to change the soil will depend on the size of your tank and how many snails you own. 

There's my round up of how I care for my little snail family. It might seem like a lot but once you get into a routine it's pretty simple stuff. And their little personalities and derpy faces make it all worth it. 


1 comment:

  1. Great post :) Thankyou for sharing it as it will be really education for others. Reading it made me miss my GALS x

    ReplyDelete

I read and welcome all comments and appreciate them greatly even if I may not answer all of them. I love hearing my reader's thoughts and interacting with you. Thanks!

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