Keeping snails is becoming an increasingly common activity, but many still perceive these pets as outlandish and exotic animals. Aquarium mollusks are ideal pets for busy or lazy people who do not want to spend a lot of time keeping pets. Caring for snails is simple and unpretentious. A beginner is also capable of keeping a snail at home.
Snails are gastropods with a spiral outer shell. In the structure, there are head, leg and bag with viscera. They move along the surfaces with the help of the foot, which secretes mucus. The body size of snails varies in species from a couple of cm to several tens.
To choose a snail housing, consider the natural habitat of the pet. Terrariums, containers, molluscs from 10 liters per individual are suitable for land snails. For aquatic mollusks, purchase an aquarium. Remember that not all aquatic mollusks can get along with aquarium fish. For 1-2 aquarium snails, a capacity of 5 liters is suitable.
The terrarium or aquarium should be equipped with small openings or narrow slots through which air will pass and excess moisture will evaporate. Pets can easily get out through large openings, and a large number of holes can lead to air overdrying, which can be detrimental to snails. For land snails, ventilation is not necessary at all - they just need the air that enters the terrarium every day when cleaning and feeding.
To arrange suitable housing you will need:
- substrate for the bottom,
- terrarium cover
- lids or plastic feeding bowls.
A layer of substrate is laid at the bottom of the molluskaria or terrarium. For a substrate, a coconut substrate, compost without fertilizers or peat is suitable for the bottom of the terrarium, a small amount of sand or shell from nuts is allowed. Clay, wood chips or bark are not allowed.
Terrarium with mollusks does not need separate lighting, because the life of snails does not depend on daylight hours and light intensity. But observe the daily change of day and night. In the dark, they become active, and hide during the day.
When keeping snails at home, temperature plays an important role; sharp changes in temperature cannot be allowed. Shellfish will feel comfortable at a temperature of 20–26 degrees. The specific temperature depends on the breed of the mollusk and its natural habitat. After all, the temperature regime of tropical animals and snails from central Russia will be different.
High humidity in the terrarium is a prerequisite for the care and maintenance of aquarium snails. Humidity is approximately 80%, fluctuations do not exceed 10%. To maintain humidity, a conventional atomizer is suitable, which is sufficient to spray water on the wall or substrate to increase humidity. It is easy to monitor the level of humidity with a hygrometer or by observing the level of condensate on the walls of the terrarium. You can also compress the soil in a fist - if water flows from it, then the humidity level is exceeded, and if it crumbles in your hands, then humidity must be increased. It is extremely not recommended to put a bowl of water on the ground - land snails easily turn them over, arranging a swamp in the substrate, which leads to an excessive level of humidity.
Snail breeders often decorate terrariums with moss, snags, branches. It is important to carefully process them before placing them in a terrarium. Decorations made of stone, ceramics, and other hard materials are prohibited — snails often “peel off” from the ceiling lid and fall down, and hard objects can damage a fragile sink.
Well complement the home of snails and plants. But make sure that due to watering, the humidity does not change too much. And also mollusks do not mind eating planted plants, especially they like ferns and ivies.
General rules of care and maintenance for all types of snails.
- Cleaning the terrarium 1-3 times a month for aquarium snails and daily cleaning for the land.
- When caring for aquarium snails, replace the substrate once every six months or a year.
- Water treatments. Land mollusks need to be sprayed, washed with warm water. However, with a favorable level of humidity, spraying is not necessary - the snails have enough condensation from the walls.
- Remember that hibernation is the main signal of a problem. The pet hibernates when the ambient temperature drops or the humidity level is incorrect. If this happens - carefully examine the snail, the terrarium, and begin to eliminate deficiencies in the content.
A healthy and whole shell is an important sign of mollusk health. It needs to be properly looked after. In order for the shell to be strong and recover quickly when chipped, the snail must have constant access to calcium top dressing (sepia, ground egg shells, natural chalk without additives).
If the shell cracked or cracked, then treat the damaged surface with an antiseptic to prevent infection. For the healing period, it is better to deposit the mollusk in a separate tank, provide it with calcium and carefully monitor the diet. The snail will repair damage on its own.
Is it possible to pick up
Mollusks are not tame animals and more often than not, contact with hands will cause the pet stress, especially if you have it recently. The snail should be picked up very carefully: either let it crawl onto a wet hand on its own, or gently peel it off with your finger, starting from the head. In no case should you grab a pet by the sink. It is also important to remember that dry room air is harmful to snails, so if you really want to let a home snail crawl on your hand, you need to constantly spray it with water. But it’s better not to bother the mallusk without needing to.
The frequency of feeding depends on the age of the mollusk. Small representatives require feeding several times a day, and adults are fed 1 time in 1-2 days. A pet can do without food for up to 2 weeks, but do not abuse it.
The daily diet of snails consists mainly of vegetables, fruits and vegetation. We wrote more about snail nutrition separately.
- Vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage).
- Fruits (bananas, apples).
- Leaves (grapes, dandelion, spinach, salad).
- Berries (strawberries, strawberries, raspberries).
- Oatmeal, bran.
- Protein top dressing 1-2 times a week (gammarus, daphnia).
What can not be fed:
- Citrus (oranges, lemons, tangerines).
You do not need to bathe the snail - it is quite enough of the moisture that forms on the walls of the terrarium. In addition, mollusks like to pick their hands in the ground, because of which their body and shell will always be in pieces of soil. But if you really want to wash the snail - you can carefully put it on your hand and spray it with warm water or spray directly in the terrarium.
Snails do not need to walk outside the terrarium, but if you want to observe the behavior of the pet, you can moisten the lid of the terrarium and transplant the snail there. It is important to regularly spray the pet, because dry indoor air is extremely harmful to the mollusk.
Snails are hermophrodites. One snail is quite capable of reproducing on its own. Shellfish become sexually mature at 8 months. Egg incubation lasts a couple of weeks, and then the snail lays about 300 eggs in the ground. Small pieces hatch from eggs after 2 weeks.
If the mollusks do not breed, then most likely the mollusk is not enough heat, humidity or space. For reproduction, the soil layer is 4 cm, with a smaller thickness, the pets will not lay their eggs there.
Disease, Prevention and Treatment
Shellfish are quite sensitive and do not have powerful immunity and strong health, so you have to protect the pet from possible ailments and diseases by properly caring for the snails.
- Overheat. When overheated, the mollusks do not have enough fluid in the body, and they are not able to secrete enough mucus to protect the body.
- Hypothermia. Due to the constantly wet body, mollusks are particularly prone to hypothermia.
- Hypovitaminosis. It occurs in the absence of any vitamin in the diet of the mollusk. Especially dangerous is the lack of calcium. Calcium is needed to build a sink and if it is lacking, any chips will become a serious problem. For treatment, diversify the diet with leaves, dandelion flowers, provide constant access to calcium. Pets also need protein supplements (gammarus, daphnia), which should be added to the diet with a pinch 1-2 times a week.
- Injury to the shell. Small fragments of the shell will still grow, but if the pet has completely lost the shell, then it becomes unviable. Infections and fungal diseases lead to shell loss.
- Parasites, worms. They enter the body from poor-quality feed, soil or non-compliance with hygiene rules. For treatment, you will need antiparasitic or anthelmintic drugs, as well as a complete replacement or soil treatment (boiling or calcining in the oven).
Follow the rules of hygiene: wash your hands before contact with normal water without using chemicals, clean the container or terrarium of mucus and food waste in time. Do not rot food and choose healthy foods.
The best prophylaxis is proper care, timely cleaning of the terrarium and full processing or soil replacement once every six months.
- Place the mollusk in accessible places, but not in passage rooms.
- Do not abuse spinach.
- Provide the optimum level of humidity and constantly monitor the temperature in the terrarium.
- Because of the peaches, the mucus of the snails becomes watery, so it is better to remove this fruit from the diet.
- Pets love cucumbers and sometimes refuse other food, but cucumbers do not bring them any benefit.
- Avoid drafts.
- Do not allow the mollusks to come in contact with salt, sugar, or chemicals.
How to care for snails?
Land gastropod mollusk from a subclass of pulmonary snails. Widely distributed in countries with tropical climates, a highly invasive species, is a pest of agricultural plants, especially sugar cane. Currently, further expansion of the area of Achatina has been stopped thanks to strict measures to maintain quarantine. The invasion of snail invasion in the United States was prevented. In Europe, including Russia, where the survival of Achatina in nature is impossible, they are often kept as pets.
Achatina snail content (Terrarium)
Achatina terrarium can be made from a simple aquarium. The minimum size is 10 liters per snail. The larger the aquarium, the larger your snail will grow. The terrarium must certainly have a lid, because snails can crawl out of it. It is advisable to arrange small holes in the lid for better gas exchange. In extreme cases, you can simply lift the lid to form a small gap. Litter must be placed on the bottom of the aquarium. The litter can be Begonia, or ideally a coconut mound substrate. You can build a small bath with fresh water, Achatina love to swim. The main thing is that the depth of the bath does not allow the snail to choke. In general, Akhatins crawl well under water, but, accidentally falling into the bath from above, a small snail can drown from fear. You also need to make sure that the bath does not turn over if the snail begins to bury itself in the ground next to it, otherwise the water will flow, which is not good.
The temperature and humidity required by the Achatina people roughly coincide with those in an ordinary city apartment. Soil moisture is determined empirically. If the snails are constantly sitting on the walls of the terrarium, then there is too much water. If they prefer to clog (evidence hides in the sink and closes with a lid), on the contrary, it is too dry. With normal soil moisture, snails crawl along its surface at night, and often dig into it during the day. To maintain humidity, it is enough to spray the soil and the walls of the terrarium from the spray twice a day.
To wake up a clogged snail, you can water its mouth with water and carefully remove the lid or simply place it in a terrarium with normal humidity. It is recommended to wash the terrarium at least once a week. The exception is the terrarium with egg laying, which must be cleaned without water, so as not to change humidity and not damage the masonry.
Small snails are best kept without soil, laying them with cabbage or lettuce leaves, thereby increasing the chance of snails finding food and to facilitate the care of the terrarium.
Achatina feeding snail
Feed better as you eat and dry food and remove leftovers. Achatina eat vegetables, fruits and herbs, but in nature they do not refuse meat. Usually in captivity they are fed cabbage, carrots and cucumbers, but it is preferable to give a more varied food. This is necessary in the first place so that at any moment you can switch to another available type of food. It is known that snails have certain food cravings, including many who prefer cucumbers and salad to other foods and, if they are fed only cucumbers since childhood, often refuse to eat anything other than them, which can cause some inconvenience. Large snails can be given whole bits, they surprisingly quickly process food waste. Soft foods should be given briefly, otherwise they will flow and spread over the soil, causing contamination. Small snails are generally not recommended to give soft foods. There was a case when snails completely buried in a banana and suffocated there. For very small newborn snails, it is better to give greens, grated carrots, and after a few days salad and apple.
Fruits: apple, apricots, pineapple, avocado, bananas, pear, strawberries, strawberries, cherries, mangoes, papaya, plums, bunch of grapes, figs, watermelon, melon.
Vegetables: pumpkin, rutabaga, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, salad, cucumber, potatoes (boiled), carrots, red, red peppers, celery, spinach, tomato, cabbage leaves.
Beans, peas (cooked or fresh), oatmeal.
Other: mushrooms, meadow plants / trees, nettle, daisy flowers, elderberry flowers, clover, dandelion, plantain, yarrow, sprouted oats, alfalfa, the color of fruit trees (apple tree, apricot, peach.), bread (softened), milk (dried or natural ), dairy / lactic acid products (without sugar, salt, spices), minced meat (minced meat, raw or boiled meat), egg (cooked), mixed fodder, meat and bone meal, peanuts (minced), baby and vegetable food, meat and gammarus.
It is important that the plants are not torn off within the city, factories or enterprises, wastewater, landfills. Rinse thoroughly in warm water after bringing home!
The effect of calcium on shellfish
Snails need calcium to build a shell. Calcium is a very common chemical element.
Calcium snail deficiency in food leads to curvature and deformation of the shell. The cochlea shell from calcium deficiency becomes softer, it is not protected from the environment. Since all internal organs are attached to the walls of the shell, any damage to it can lead to malfunctioning of organs or to death. A mollusk that does not receive calcium with food usually lags in development: shell growth is disturbed or even stops, and puberty fails.
In order to prove how important calcium is to snails, I conducted an experiment.
Two groups of snails of the same age and species were taken and placed under the same conditions, but feeding was carried out differently: some with calcium supplemented, others with its complete absence.
Soon, the snails of the second group stopped growing. It follows that calcium is indispensable for mollusks.
Captive snails get calcium from sepia, eggshells, chalk, shell rock, gammarus, etc. Calcakes are made for a more effective result. Calcekash is a nutritious mixture made on the basis of various cereals with the addition of various sources of calcium, such a product is served both dry and boiled.