Are Land Snails Good Pets? Pros and Cons

Are Land Snails Good Pets? Pros and Cons

Giant African land snails (such as Achatina sp. and Archachatina sp.) have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years. So, if you are new to this hobby or are simply wondering how difficult it must be to keep them in your home aquarium (or I would better say a terrarium) I can tell you right away – it is not difficult.

Giant Land snails are docile, easy-going, require little maintenance, and will live for many years.

Nonetheless, as with any pet, there are still benefits and drawbacks to consider because owning a pet always comes with a lot of responsibility if we want them to be healthy and live their lives to the fullest.

In this article, I will be weighing the pros and cons of keeping Giant African land snails as pets, which should help you determine if they are the right pet for you.

List of Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. Low-maintenance pets
  2. Easy to Feed
  3. Simple and Small Tank Setups
  4. Cheap maintenance
  5. Peaceful
  6. Lifespan
  7. Not expensive
  8. Great Learning Opportunity
  9. Can breed in captivity
  10. Exotic animals 

Cons

  1. Do not Bond
  2. No Handling
  3. Not Interactive
  4. Messy
  5. Escape Artists
  6. Legal issues

Pros

1. Low Maintenance:

Giant land snails are very low maintenance pets because:

  • They need not be taken for a walk.
  • These animals do not require a lot of space.
  • They do not need complex set ups.
  • They absolutely do not need attention or interaction.

Therefore, Large African land snails can be ideal for those who are constantly busy. Having them as pets will not be overwhelming, especially, if your schedule is already hectic. 

2. Easy to Feed

Feeding them is also relatively easy as they are detritivorous/herbivorous. It means that they feed on a variety of plant materials as well as on decaying organic matter, such as:

  • leaves,
  • fruits,
  • vegetables,
  • plants,
  • flowers,
  • dying plants and decaying leaves, etc.

For example, Large African land snails will gladly eat lettuce, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, and apples.

Even though these snails are scavengers and can eat basically anything they find, it is still important to know that calcium-rich foods should always be on their many. In addition, you need to avoid acidic, salty, spicy, fried, and smoked foods.

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3. Simple and Small Tank Setups

As a matter of fact but these snails love compact environments – not too big and not too small! Fully grown adult snails will be absolutely happy in 5-gallon tanks (20 – 25 liters).

Note: Depending on the species, Giant African land snails can grow up to 7 inches in length (18 cm).

As for the setup, it is also very simple:

  • plastic tank or terrarium,
  • substrate: a layer of damp substrate (such as coconut, peat moss, or soil),
  • temperature and humidity: these snails require warm and humid conditions, with temperatures of about 77°F (25°C) and humidity levels between 60-80%.

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4. Cheap Maintenance

Due to the fact that these snails have little housing and food requirements, keeping them does not cost much money; on the contrary, it is quite affordable.

Note: These snails need warm temperatures. Thus, if you live in a particularly cold area, you will have to buy one. This is likely the most expensive item you will have to buy to keep Giant African land snails.

5. Peaceful

Giant African land snails are very peaceful and quiet animals. They are gentle giants which do not care about anything and anybody but food. 

Although these snails are mostly solitary and do not form bonds or social hierarchies, they can be easily kept in groups.

6. Lifespan

Generally, Giant African land snails can live up to 8 years, or even longer, depending on the species, if given the proper care.

Despite the fact that keeping them as pets might be exciting, it also comes with a lot of responsibility for many years! Do not keep them unless you are ready for that.

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7. Not expensive

Generally, they are not very expensive and can range from around $5 to $30 USD.

Land snails can vary in price depending on various factors such as their size, color, and location of purchase.

8. Great Learning Opportunity

Animal care is a valuable life lesson for kids of all ages and adults alike.

9. Can Breed in Captivity

Giant African land snails are fairly easy to breed even in captivity. It is usually achieved through simple co-habitation of the tank.

These snails are protandrous hermaphrodite animals. Although they have both male and female reproductive organs, they cannot fertilize themselves and need to mate.

Breeding them can be a rewarding experience for those interested in these unique creatures.

10. Beautiful and Exotic animals

When it comes to unusual pets, keeping Giant African land snails is not something that immediately springs to mind. Even though their popularity as pets is rising, most people will still be shocked and confused if you start telling them about your snail pets.

They are also very beautiful and cute. It will make a great decorative addition to any household.

Cons

1. Do not Bond

Giant African land snails are not capable of forming long-term memory responses, which results in them not bonding with their owners. As a consequence, they cannot recognize their owners.

The most one can hope for from these snails is that they might perceive their owners as non-threatening. Anything beyond that is simply beyond the snails’ capabilities.

2. No Handling

Giant African land snails do not like to be handled. Thus, it is not recommended to handle or play with Giant African land snails. Although their shell is pretty hard, they have very delicate body and can be easily hurt.

Therefore, they are not pets you can play with. Handling them can cause them to become stressed.

Important: These snails can carry diseases that can be harmful to humans. Generally, they do not have these kinds of diseases as long as they are captive-bred and you keep them in sanitary conditions. 

In case you have to move the snail, pick it at the base of the shell; to avoid damaging the edges of the shell. Slowly go underneath the snail and release the vacuum between the snail and the surface and pick it. Ideally, you should use a lettuce leaf to hold the snail.

3. Not Interactive

Interaction of these snails is very limited. All their actions are based exclusively on their instinctual nature.

Giant African land snails are not smart enough to understand this concept – this is just beyond their ‘mental’ abilities and nervous system.

Strictly speaking, they do not even have a brain. Instead, they have nerve cells concentrated in a set of ganglia. The ganglia interconnect by bundles of nerve fibers that transport the signals at high speed. This is a very rudimentary ‘brain’.

4. Messy

Like all snails, Giant African Land Snails are very messy creatures. This is because of their feeding habits, waste output, and specifics of setup.

As I have already mentioned, these snails grow big and produce a significant amount of waste. They leave slime trails as they move around. Besides, they pretty messy eaters and will leave behind bits of uneaten food.

In addition, they require a humid environment to thrive, which can result in excess moisture and slime being left behind in their habitat.

Therefore, it is important to keep their enclosure clean to ensure their health and well-being.

5. Escape Artists

Giant African land snails are also known to be great escape artists. These snails are capable of climbing up walls and surfaces. In addition, they are strong enough to push things aside and squeeze through openings.

Therefore, in order to prevent escape, the top of their enclosure should be securely fastened with a lid or screen.

6. Legal issues

It may be illegal to keep certain species (such as Achatina fulica) of land snails as pets in some states due to their potential to become invasive.

So, it is better to research local regulations before getting a pet snail.

In Conclusion

As we can see, keeping land snails as pets has its advantages and disadvantages.

On the positive side, these animals can be extraordinary companions for many years! They are low maintenance, unique, have a long lifespan, and are easy to care for. All in all, they don’t require much space or investment.

The downside though is that land snails have limited interaction with their owners. They are messy and require careful handling. In addition, some species can be banned in the states.

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2 thoughts on “Are Land Snails Good Pets? Pros and Cons

  1. Thanks for the article
    I’m curious, if I grow such a snail, will it be with me all year? Or are there periods when he is not active at all? hibernation and similar things

    1. Hi Yakov,
      The answer to your question will depend on the type of snail.
      For example, if we are talking about Large African snails, they may undergo a process of hibernation. However, in their natural environment, this process is mainly associated with sudden and negative changes (too cold/too tot, etc.), which is why snails may close their shells and enter a state of dormancy until conditions improve.
      Essentially, this process is directly related to survival ability, so if there are no such conditions in their care, they will remain constantly active.
      Best regards,
      Michael

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