Creating a Perfect Home for Snails

Garden land snails are fascinating creatures that can make amazing pets. They are low-maintenance, enjoy being handled (with some safety precautions), and offer a great opportunity for observation. Contrary to popular belief, snails are not insects; they belong to the mollusk family and are closely related to clams, oysters, and mussels. With an average lifespan of 5 years, they can live up to 20 years in captivity. So, before bringing one home, be sure you’re ready for the commitment! You can easily find snails after rainfall in your garden, as they usually emerge at that time. Snails are social creatures, and if you’re lucky, you may even end up with a snail family. Our eight snails have become an integral part of our family over the years.

Creating the Ideal Habitat

To house your snails, you’ll need a spacious glass or plastic terrarium. The size will depend on the number of snails you plan to keep. For a couple of snails, a minimum of 5 gallons is recommended, but a 10-gallon tank would be ideal if you want to add more. The general rule is to allocate 1 gallon of space per snail. Snails do not require a heat source, so there’s no need to worry about that. It’s crucial to choose a terrarium with proper ventilation and a removable, tightly fitting lid that locks in place. We opted for a glass terrarium with a sliding metal screen on top, providing a secure environment that maintains temperature and humidity levels effectively.

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Setting up the Habitat

Start by adding a few inches of pesticide, chemical, and fertilizer-free substrate to the bottom of the terrarium. Avoid using bagged potting soil, as it may contain harmful chemicals. Snails love to burrow, so sand, pebbles, and gravel are not suitable. Instead, consider using sterilized soil specifically sold for pet terrariums. Moistening the soil to the right dampness is important. To maintain a good level of humidity and provide soft padding, add a thick layer of sphagnum moss. However, avoid peat moss as it is too acidic. Snails also love to climb, so incorporate sticks, pieces of bark, branches, and leaves into their habitat. We no longer use rocks in our terrarium as the snails tend to climb the sides, posing a risk of falling and shell damage. Create crawl spaces and hiding spots by adding a hollowed-out log cave or a large oak leaf nook. You may also introduce non-toxic real plants or grasses. Just make sure to research the plants beforehand.

Location and Maintenance

Find a suitable spot for your terrarium away from direct sunlight. To maintain humidity, mist the substrate regularly with filtered water using a clean spray bottle. The goal is to keep everything moist but not soggy. We find that a daily fine misting works well for our snails. As snails thrive in a humid environment, maintaining ideal conditions will keep them active. Regularly remove any waste and uneaten food, and perform a thorough cleaning once or twice a month to ensure a clean and healthy habitat.

Diet and Care

Garden snails are herbivores and have a wide-ranging diet. They enjoy fresh raw vegetables and fruits (avoiding acidic fruits), as well as a calcium source for their shells and protein. Leafy greens, carrots, dandelion leaves, cucumber, apple, and flowers are some of their favorites. Remember to clean the food before feeding it to them to remove potential harmful substances. Additionally, provide a shallow dish of filtered water for them to drink or play in. Handling snails is safe as long as proper hygiene is practiced. Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling them, and ensure children do the same. Touching any creature can expose you to pathogens, so it’s essential to prioritize safety.

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How to Make a Snail Habitat

Creating a snail habitat is an enjoyable endeavor that allows you to bring nature indoors. By building a proper living space and providing a varied and nutritious diet, you can ensure the well-being of your snail companions for years to come. Remember, a happy snail is a healthy snail! For all your snail habitat needs, visit Ames Farm Center.