Giant African Land Snails - By Martin
There are several species sold as Giant African Land
Snails, these are:
East African Land Snails (Achatina
West African Land Snails (Achatina marginata)
The other snail that is sometimes seen is the very large
Achatina achatina that has been recorded at over 37cm in size
from snout to tail and a shell size of 27cm.
Achatina fulica is a tropical snail, but can
survive cold conditions, even snow, by aestivating (equivalent
to hibernation). Snails are hermaphroditic (both male and
female), and after a single mating can produce a number of
batches of fertile eggs over a period of months. This does NOT
mean that they can mate with themselves, they still require a
partner A. fulica lays eggs in batches of 100 to 400 with up
to 1200 being laid in a year.
Eggs are spherical to ellipsoidal in shape (4.5-5.5 mm in
diameter) and are yellow to cream in colour. These hatch after
about 8-21 days under tropical conditions. The eggs hatch
releasing snails about 4mm long. After eating their own shell,
the baby snails move straight onto adult food, maturing in six
to nine months, depending on temperature and food.
These snails grow up to 10mm per month. After 6 months, the
Achatina fulica is about 35mm long and may already be sexually
mature. Sexual maturity takes 6 to 16 months, depending on
weather and the availability of calcium. This snail lives 5 or
6 years, sometimes as many as 9 years.
Snails are one of the easiest of the exotic pets to keep. All
you need is a reasonable sized tank (plastic or glass) with a
secure lid, some general-purpose compost, a small water dish
and a heat pad.
Snails should have fresh substrate every week and this should
be at least 1-2 inches deep to allow the snail to bury itself
as it would in the wild.
Snails will eat almost any vegetable or fruit, just make sure
that you rinse the food well to ensure that any pesticides are
washed off. Mine are rather keen on Peppers, Cucumber and Cos
lettuce. They have also eaten apple, nectarine, grapes,
banana, peach, plums, etc They will also eat brown bread and
moistened dog biscuits. Please ensure that ALL vegetable food
is washed before use as otherwise residual pesticides may
cause the untimely death of the snail.
Snails need calcium, and to get this the best source is cuttle
fish bone (same as you use for budgies). Without this calcium
the snails shell will not be very strong and maybe slow to
Snails are also fond of the occasional drop of beer. Not to
much, as you'll end up with an alcoholic or pickled snail!
Snails don't seem to mind being handled, you might not like to
be slimed though!
A word of warning though, please treat them gently as you can
easily damage the new shell growth at the base of the shell.
For more information see:
Your First Giant African Land Snail - Lucie Mann ISBN
185279057-1 Published by Kingdom Books