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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Pets 'n' Stuff | How I Became A Snail Granny

"In philosophy if you aren't moving at a snail's pace you aren't moving at all."
Iris Murdoch

More than two months ago now I was doing one of my regular egg checks. For those of you that don't know I have three adult Achatina Fulica Giant African Land Snails. This means I have to check their tank every three or four days in case they have laid eggs so I can dispose of them and not end up with thousands of baby snails. They are prolific breeders and the invasive nature of their species means they're even banned in the US. Thankfully I live in the UK and because our climate isn't warm enough for them to survive in the wild, we are free to have them here.

I'm holding Violet Chachki and Duro in the photos above.
I didn't get a photo of me holding my biggest snail, Agron.

How I personally dispose of the eggs is by putting them in a Tupperware box and freezing them for 48 hours, then putting them in the bin. As much as it saddens me, I feel this is the lesser evil. To let them hatch would mean thousands of unwanted snails that I couldn't look after. Other options for disposal are crushing them or if you have accidental hatchlings even crushing them, which I feel is not only a lot messier but more brutal for lack of a better word. That may be irrational but it's just how I feel. 

So I was doing my usual egg check when I came across a clutch of eggs under the soil. I'm pretty used to it now so I got my sister to fetch me a Tupperware box and started to put them in. It didn't take me long to realise some of the eggs had slight cracks and then... I found a completely hatched baby snail. This was the first time this had happened to me and I sort of freaked out. I had visions of hundreds of little snails I wouldn't be able to re-home but I was also completely in awe of nature and found them so adorable! So as you can imagine, I was conflicted. Thankfully not all had hatched. I started going through and inspecting each egg. Usually I check for eggs every three to four days but by accident I had left it five days. It can take weeks for eggs to hatch but it also can take a couple of days, it all depends on a number of factors. By the end of carefully looking through the clutch of a couple of hundred I had fourteen hatched and semi-hatched baby snails. I was pretty ruthless and only kept the ones I felt were too hatched to freeze. I felt awful but freezing the majority had to be done.

That was three months ago yesterday. It feels like it was just yesterday. I've watched these baby snails grow and it seems like they change every day. A few days after I found them we lost one and I named them Alice. We haven't lost any since. I now have thirteen healthy little snails that I hope will soon go to loving homes. In today's post I'm going to show you the photos documenting their growth over the three months and my next post will be a fact sheet for anyone that might be interested in adopting one of my babies. So look out for that if you love these babies half as much as I do!

The morning after I found them. Some were still hatching but others were already active and had gone to hide under the piece of cuttlefish. As you can see one is also having a munch on some lettuce. At this point they were just under 0.5cm. 

It took a couple of days for them all to hatch fully. This photo was the first day I noticed some had poop swirls - not the scientific term, just what I named it - in their digestive systems as their shells were see through. As gross as you might find it it showed me they were eating and healthy. What brought Alice to my attention was the fact they did not have a poop swirl. At that stage they hadn't passed away but it was evident they weren't eating. Despite my best efforts to coax them it was a futile mission. 

In the photo above all the snails had had a feast on some lettuce which you can see inside their shells. They all had full stomachs apart from Alice who was still clinging to life. I could see their heartbeat so they weren't gone yet. You can see Alice in the photo above as they're the only one with a full yellow shell. 

Up until this point the babies had congregated on the plate with the food and slept under the cuttlefish, so this was the first day I had found them digging under the soil like grown ups. After I fed them and put some heat under the tank they started to explore more and I caught them exploring the side of the tank for the first time. 

Around the time of the photos above I noticed that one of the babies was different than the others. My adult snails are Jadatzi (yellow shelled and white bodied), Jade (dark shelled and white bodied) and Rodatzi (yellow shelled and dark bodied). So I was looking forward to seeing what colour the babies turned out. Most of them had see through yellow shells and white bodies but I noticed one had a speckled shell and a darker body. You can see that one on the cuttlefish in the photos above. 

Here's some photos that need no explanation in chronological order.

The photos below are from the day I moved the babies into a bigger tank. It doesn't look much bigger because the hide is bigger but it's about twice the size and twice as tall as the tank they were in before.

That's up to the most recent photos I have of them but I'll include more in the fact sheet post. At the moment they are just under 2cm in size and they're very active. More so than what my youngest snail, Violet Chachki, was when I got her and she wasn't much bigger than what they are now. I thought it was because she was a baby but these babies are proving they can be up and about as much as adults.

If you find these lil munchkins cute, might want to get your hands on one and live in the UK then look out for the fact sheet later in the week and you can learn a little more about what's involved in owning them.


  1. I'll be completely honest with you, I think snails are cute from a distance but I don't think they're my bag as pets. That said, I have pet cameroonian armoured shrimp, and I imagine they wouldn't be most people's first choice either!

  2. Awh they're so cute! I can't believe how big the eggs are! And I had no idea that their shells were see-through when they were babies (though now it makes a lot of sense that the shells wouldn't be fully formed haha!). I hope you find them all loving homes when they're big enough to move on!

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about wee Alice :(. The 13 remaining snails, how easily can you tell them apart? How much do they have different personalities?

  4. I absolutely love this post! :) I really adore snails, and I miss my GALS so much. I really loved seeing the photos of the hatchlings growing and hearing all about them. I'd love to read more about your snails! x

    Sarah | Raiin Monkey

  5. such an interesting post - thanks for sharing! the photos of them eating together in a circle are sooo cuuute!!! xxx


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