11/4/15

How to take care of your pet garden snail!

My oldest LOVES snails. Every day on the walk from the bus stop to our house he picks up several and moves as many as he can off the sidewalk to make sure no one steps on them. Our front porch was becoming littered with snails so I decided to let him bring in a few (meaning 2 max) of his favorite garden snails and keep them as pets. He was so excited and thought this was the greatest decision I had ever made as a mom lol!

So I researched as much as I could cause I didn't want to harm them by bringing them in.



WHAT YOU WILL NEED
If your only planning on having one or two snails then the below instructions will work but I have also included the modified instructions as most little snail keepers end up collecting more then just two and soon you have a heard of snails (or in snail technical terms a escargatoire of snails) in a tiny space and will need to upgrade so plan accordingly.

• 1 Gallon tank either plastic or glass with a lid. The picture above show the 1 gallon tank we started with. Snails can climb vertically so you must have a lid on the tank to keep them safe. The lid must have air holes as snails do breathe but the holes need to be small enough that they can not get through. If you plan on having more then two snails I suggest getting a 5 gallon tank cause they will breed.

• Soil. Now here is where things get a bit tricky. I wanted to have living plants in the tank with the snails so that it was like their own environment. Being a snail pet owner beginner I went out and bought organic Potting soil thinking cause its organic it would be safe for the pet garden snails but once we finished making our Snailarium and put the snails in you could see they did not like the potting soil. So I went to the local pet store and bought some Reptile "soil" but as it turns out when I got home and read the package its really shredded coconut fibers and the snails did not like it either. So back to the drawing board. What we ended up doing was putting 1 inch of the potting soil on the bottom and then 2 inches of plain old dirt we dug up under our grass in the backyard. The snails enjoy this combo a lot better and the live plants we planted in the tank are doing well and have rooted.

• Live plants. This is your choice. You can decorate the tank how ever you like. Leave it with just plain dirt, add live plants and a little a little shelter what ever you would like. I suggest not using fake platic plants as they might be pointy and the snails don't like that. For our starter 1 gallon tank we used Ivy for the live plants and they are doing well. We also added a little terra cotta pot for them as a shelter which they all seem to enjoy. When we transferred them to the 5 gallon tank we added a few more terra cotta pots, some more Ivy, and some fist size rocks to make their habitat more interesting. I also cut a strip of grass from our front lawn so they would have dirt area and a grassy area to enjoy.

• A small shallow water dish. For this we use the lid of a water bottle and filed off any pointy parts. It was small enough to have water in it but not big enough to flood the tank if it tipped over.

Thats it! In total I think the set up once I finally got it right was about $35



HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR PET GARDEN SNAIL

Snails are pretty easy to care for. They like decomposing fruits and veggies so anything your about to toss in the green bin or garbage is good. I keep a bag of Romain lettuce on hand just for them though and it lasts a few weeks. I have thrown in baby carrots, apples and cucumber as well. I have read somewhere that you need to boil the carrots first so snails can eat them, but this I found to be untrue. I put a full baby carrot in there and in 2 days it was completely gone. I add water every few days to the water bottle lid which is like their little water dish and I keep the soil moist at all times. Not wet ot he point of mud pies but damp. You will need to clean the sides and top of the tank once a week as they leave poop every where. So far I have only had to clean the glass and lid on the big 5 gallon tank and not had to change out the soil as the plants and grass take care of that mess.



IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER

Snails do not like to be in direct sunlight and are nocturnal. Its important not to put them in a spot that gets any direct sunlight as they will spend too much time in their shells sleeping and will not eat enough. In the spring and summer they will breed as snail are hermaphrodites but need another snail to mate, so if you have two in a tank you will end up with baby snails! So far we plan to collect the babies and keep them in a different tank until they are big enough to go back outside. They will need about two inches deep of soil to bury their eggs. Every once and a while give them a little chalk for calcium to help keep their shell healthy. Also if you keep them some where too cold they will hibernate. They will cover the opening into their shell with a thin layer of mucus and go into a deep sleep. Snails can see but they can not hear so putting them in a noisy area of your house will not bother them at all. Ours are in the kitchen in a shaded spot.

Hope you enjoy your snails as much as we do! Here is Herman he is the most social of our bunch. He never seems to get frightened when we walk by or when I am putting lettuce in the tank. In fact he is quite nosy and seems to follow my hand with his eyes to see what I am doing! He is also not camera shy at all :)

 


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