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Giant african land snails

Rearing Giant African Land Snails (Achatina Sp.)

Snails are very easy to keep, and if you are looking for an easy, first exotic pet, then this is certainly one for you. There are no specilist conditions needed, or any other specialist equipment required to successfully rear these beasts.

Housing

Housing for snails can be what you make it really. Only something very basic is needed. Any tank will do, however I usually use plastic tanks, just for the fact they are cheaper, lightly, and you can stack then/move then with ease. In fact, the small plastic tanks available from Wilkinson’s (UK peeps only) make the perfect snail enclosure. Temperatures need to be around room temperature, no hotter, but there is room for making a little cooler. Anything from 16c to 25c will be great. In the winter, it is advised to get a heat mat to put under the tank, just to boost the temperature slightly. In the night I am guessing the temperature will get fairly cold, although in the day if you have got central heatintg, there will be no need. The tank will need to be ventilated, so either a grilled top, or some mesh will do. But you have to make sure the snail cannot get out, as they are very good climbers!

Substrate wise, the best thing to use would be soil or peat. Best that is is sterilised before putting in the enclosure, and you can do this by boiling it, on throwing it in the microwave for a minute or so. The snails will spend a lot of time burrowed in the substrate, and will also bury their eggs as deep as they can, in the substrate.

A little decor can be added to the enclosure as well, just really to improve the look of it. This can be done by adding stones, which you can slightly submerge in the the soil, and this looks quite nice. Also, you can add some bark (cork bark is good for this), or even some small logs, or other peices of wood.

Feeding

Snails will happily eat most things, with their diet consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables. Favourites include lettuce, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, sweetcorn, melon, plum, tomato, banana, and many more. You can just experiment with your snail to see what it’s preferences are. Chuck in a different fruit/vegetable every day. It is also good to give them a varied diet, so this experimentation is probably doing them some good!

They will also eat dried foods, such as biscuits, cat food, dog food, meat, etc. Again, try them on different things, and see which they take the most liking to.

Snails will get most of their moisture from the soil, but they will also drink as well. Water can be provided in the form of a bowl in the enclosure, but this will more than likely fill up with substrate as the trudge through it. So, the best thing to do is the put them in a bowl of water outside of their tank every few days. They will usually take a fairly long drink from this. You can also offer them beer, which they do seem to be fond of! Not in large amounts (a drunken snail would be amusing…), but just dip your finger in some beer, and let the snail drink it off.

One thing snails must have is a source of calcium. This can be best provided in the form of cuttle fish. If you simply put a piece of cuttle fish in the enclosure, they wull soon start munching on it. Calcium is used for shel growth, and failure to provide calcium could end in a very unhealthy snail.

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