How to Look After a Giant African Land Snail
Looking After Giant African Land Snails
In this article, I will show you how to look after your giant african land snail (GALS). To begin with, you will need a few pieces of equipment before you get your snail. You will need:
A well ventilated tank, about 40cmx25cmx25cm for one snail. This cost me £20.
A plant mister. These can be bought from most garden centres or large shops, such as Tesco or B&Q for a pound or two.
Garden peat. Soil from your back garden cannot be used as it may contain chemicals your GALS is not used to, and may damage it. This can be bought in large packs that last over a year for roughly £5.
A heat mat. You will probably only need this in the winter, because your snail might die in colder conditions. These can be bought from most pet stores, under reptile equipment, however, I use one of those ones that you can heat up for your dog to snuggle up to in the winter, that costed me about £20.
You will need cuttlefish bones. These are sold in pet stores for budgies, but you must put one in your snail tank so it can rasp on it for calcium, to help its shell grow.
You may also wish to purchase a thermometer with a suction cup to attach to the inside of the tank to make sure the temperature is good (around 21-25 degrees celsius).
Now you have your equipment, you are ready to get your snail! The snail itself is very cheap, costing about £3. Some pet shops will have them, but if not, they are in plentiful supply on the internet. I got mine on Ebay for £3.50 and they posted it to me! It came in a ventilated platic box, with some peat an lettuce. He fitted in easily, has he was just 2 months old, and smaller that a garden snail. I like to think of GALS as credit crunch pets- No vet bills, costing about 1 tesco value lettuce a week and costing under £50 to get started!
Before you put your snail in the tank, you must make it ready for it. Cover the bottom with a few centimeters of peat, put in a few leaves of lettuce and a piece of cuttlefish bone, and stick the thermometer in if you have one. If possible, buy round lettuces, not iceberg or anything else, because they contain more of the good stuff your snail needs! Some people have a small water bowl in the tank, but snails are perfectly happy as long as you regularly mist the walls and ceiling of the tank with the plant mister. You should do this at least twice a day. Your snail will suck the moisture of the walls and off his shell. If you do decide on a bowl, you must still mist him, and most importantly, make sure the bowl is slanted, so he cannot drown. When they are small, you might want to gather some small pieces of wood and some pebbles and build him a little shelter, then take it out when he outgrows it. You must was the materiald thoroughly in warm water before putting it in the tank and make sure there are no sharp edges.
When you put him in his tank, he may be a little shy for a day or two, but should soon come out and explore his new home. Some snails often sleep on the walls or ceiling. Mine did when he was younger, but doesn't any more.
You must make sure you feed him every 2-3 days, or if you notice he has eaten it all, put some more in immediately. You don't just have to feed him lettuce, he will eat almost any fruit or veg, though harder foods, such as carrots often proove too tough. Most snails love mango especially, but you should experiment to find out what your particular snail likes. Speedy's, (my snail) particular favourites include mango, banana and kiwi.
You should clean out your snails tank every three weeks, with warm, soapy water. Make sure you dry thoroughly, before replacing the peat, cuttlefish and lettuce.
If you want to handle your snail, most snails don't seem to mind. If they are on the peat, scoop a hand under them, then gently lift them out. You may get snail slime on your hand, but it's not an unpleasant experience. It just feels a little weird. I recommend you have wet hands before taking out your snail. They don't dry out and seem more comfortable on your hand. Most snails like to take a quick shower in warm water. Run the tap so it's not hot, but not cold, a good warm temperature, then run it over their shell. Speedy becomes a lot more active like this and seems to try to twist his head so it's in the stream of water.
Most importantly- Have fun with your snail!