Basic Land Snail Care
Keeping your pet land snail happy and healthy
A pet land snail enclosure can be as basic or complicated as you want. Your enclosure could be a terrarium, an aquarium, a RUB style box or something similar. Whatever you decide to use, please remember that the animals require a combination of high humidity and good ventilation. It is also essential the your enclosure has a well fitting lid as these animals can and will climb. In the case of plastic tubs as housing, simply melting or drilling some holes in the lid and on the sides should suffice although mesh may need to be glued over the holes if babies are present to prevent escape. The enclosure should be high enough to have a deep layer of substrate as they will need to be able to dig. They should also have plenty of space available to move around freely. A water dish is required in order for them to drink and bathe but be shallow enough to prevent drowning. If preferred some smooth pebbles can be placed in the water dish to help them climb out. A heat mat if required should be placed on the outside of the top third of the enclosure and NEVER UNDERNEATH as doing this would kill them. At least one hide should be provided.
Snails can live happily on a variety of substrates such as coir or topsoil. Please be aware that if you choose to use a peat based substrate, you will need to alter the ph as this is naturally acidic. For this reason we do not recommend using peat as a substrate. The substrate should be kept very damp but never wet. If they are leaving very obvious snail trails around their enclosure, they are too dry, obviously this should be rectified immediately. You should avoid changing your snails substrate at all as the require the bacteria that builds up in it to maintain good health. Other things that we recommend adding to the substrate are dead leaves from hard wood trees (soft woods such as pine and fir should never be used as these are poisonous), rotten white wood from hardwood trees, calcium powder and sphagnum moss. This mixture will provide both nutrition and enrichment for your pet. Sphagnum moss also helps to maintain humidity in the enclosure. Another thing snails seem to enjoy is eating lichen which can be provided by adding sticks from outside with it on when you are topping up the substrate. The substrate itself should be deep enough for them to dig into and disappear completely should they wish to. This is normal behaviour and nothing to worry about.
Feeding these animals is pretty straight forward, snails can be fussy most will readily accept a wide variety of foods. As well as feeding on their substrate, they need fresh vegetables, fruit, at least one calcium source and protein.
Calcium is usually provided in the form of cuttlefish bone but many keepers also like to offer limestone powder, calcium dust or eggshells to give the animals a choice. Please note that calcium in whichever form should never be sprinkled over food as snails will naturally self regulate their calcium intake and if forced to eat more than they need, can easily become ill and die.
Protein can be provided by offering raw chicken or mince, fish flakes, freshly killed roaches etc once or twice a week. The snails need this in order to grow healthy shells.
Fresh vegetables and fruit (as a treat) should be available for them daily. There are very few things snails can't eat but if in doubt, always research before offering something that is possibly toxic to them. Snails can be very fussy but as they require as varied a diet as possible, the key is to keep trying them with different things. Also make sure that any foods offered are free from pesticides and other chemicals. If there is any doubt, we recommend peeling it.
This is not an exhaustive list but these foods should never be given to your pet:
By keeping snails as pets you will inevitably get eggs, especially due to the fact that snails are hermaphrodites which means that every individual has both sets of sexual organs. Due to the large volume of eggs that snails produce, you probably won't want to keep all (or any). This is perfectly understandable and there are a couple of ways to deal with them. A common method is to crush the eggs and feed them back to the adults who will appreciate the calcium source. The eggs can also be frozen and disposed of.