Subulina octona, also known as Unicorn snail or Miniature Awlsnail, is a small tropical land snail known for its small size, interesting coloration, and ease of care. These snails can make great pets.
Subulina octona is an extremely prolific and adaptable species. They grow and mature very fast and they take up no room.
If you consider keeping them as pets, or you want to breed them for commercial purposes, then there are a few important tips that you need to know.
In this article, you will find all the information you need to know, including how to care for Subulina octona, feed them, and make an optimal setup for them.
Quick Notes about Subulina Octona
|Common names||Unicorn snail, Thumbnail Awlsnail or Miniature Awlsnail|
|Scientific name||Subulina octona|
|Tank size (optimal)||1 gallon (~4 liters)|
|Average size||0.6 – 0.8 inches (1.5 – 2 cm)|
|Maximum size||1.3 inches (3.3 cm)|
|Temperature||75 – 8o° F (24 – 27° C)|
|Diet||Herbivore / detritivore|
|Life span||up to 4 years|
|Color Form||Translucent yellowish to brownish|
Natural Habitat of Subulina Octona
Subulina octona is a native of the tropical Americas. Nowadays it is a widespread species, occurring in several parts of the globe including the Caribbean Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, Africa, Asia, Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka, and Pacific Islands.
This species has also become established in:
- Czech Republic as a “hothouse alien”
- Great Britain as a “hothouse alien”
- Pratas Islands, Taiwan
- and other areas
These snails are usually found in large numbers at damp and shaded places among stones, grass, moss, leaf litter, and other debris.
In nature, Subulina octona can be harmful to agricultural species, including orchids.
The shell is elongated and smooth-surfaced. The whorls of Subulina octona are very rounded with deep sutures. The aperture is small and blunt. Full-grown shells have up to 8–9 whorls. The adult shells often have dark apical whorls.
Subulina octona has a translucent yellowish to brownish shell. The shell is also thin and glossy.
The body of these snails is pale yellow. They can stretch it almost as long as the length of their shell.
Interesting fact: After death the shell of Subulina octona rapidly becomes opaque.
Lifespan/Longevity of Subulina Octona
Under optimal conditions, Subulina octona can live up to 4 years. According to the study, the longest lifespan observed was 1401 days.
However, the average lifespan is around 2.5 years.
Interesting fact: Once Subulina octona gets old, its reproduction rate goes down. After 3 years and 9 months of observations, none of the surviving snails were reproducing.
These snails are absolutely non-aggressive and docile by nature. Subulina octona is nocturnal and may bury or hide at day.
The nocturnal behavior is not uncommon for grazing invertebrates and is mainly associated with attempting to avoid visual predators whilst feeding.
Subulina octona are social creatures, they thrive in big groups.
Subulina Octona Feeding
The species are herbivores and detritivores.
In nature, Subulina octona eat vascular plant material, which usually makes up the largest fraction of their diet, followed by lichens, fungi, and soil.
In captivity, these snails will gladly eat fresh lettuce leaves, and vegetables:
- green beans,
- spinach, etc.
Tip: Give them freshly peeled vegetables and slice them really thin.
In addition, their diet should be supplemented with calcium. Calcium can be found in:
- natural chalk
- wonder shells,
- oyster shells (Oyster Flour),
- spinach, etc.
In snails, 98% of the shell is made up of calcium carbonate. Calcium will prevent shells from deteriorating.
|So, I highly recommend reading my article “Feeding Guide for African Giant Land Snails”. You can easily apply the same principles to feeding Subulina octona.|
Keeping and Housing Subulina Octona
Although Subulina octona are low-maintenance pets and easy to care for, you should always try to replicate their natural environment into their enclosure as closely as possible.
It will minimize the stress in their lives, as this can increase their susceptibility to disease and reduce their overall quality of life and longevity.
It can be either aquarium or a plastic container.
In most cases, plastic containers can be a great choice. They are cheap and what is more important, you can easily drill a few small holes on two opposite sides of the walls to create proper ventilation.
Tank Size (Enclosure):
These snails do excellently well in just about any size of the tank. Subulina octona will thrive even in very small tanks.
A 1 gallon (4 liters) tank can have 10 and more snails.
To replicate their natural environment, provide Subulina octona with coconut fiber, soil, and peat. Your substrate should not be too deep, there is no need for that, 1-2 inches (or 3-5 cm) will be more than enough.
Avoid stones and gravel as a substrate. It prevents them from burrowing and they can break their shells because of this.
Subulina octona is a tropical snail. This species prefers a warm and humid environment, the range of optimal temperatures is anywhere between 24 – 27 °C (75 – 80 °F).
Of course, it is possible to keep them in suboptimal temperature (20-22C or 68-72F). However, in this case, their metabolism will be slower and they will be less active.
Note: Snails are “cold-blooded” or, in other words, their body temperature completely depends on the temperature in their surrounding environment.
Any big fluctuations in temperature or a cold day can drastically reduce the warmth in a tank that can potentially cause your snail to suffer from temperature shock.
In this case, it can be a good idea to have a heat mat under the tank to keep the tank warm.
The humidity level should be 80% and more. Subulina octona needs moist, and humid air to breathe properly.
How to control humidity in the tank:
Humidity can be changed by adding more moisture, less ventilation, or by adding more ventilation.
This is normally a trial and error process, so expect it to take some adjusting to get it perfect.
Does Subulina octona Need Additional Source of Water?
No, Subulina octona is a land snail. It will get enough water from the soil and food. Therefore, there is no need to have a water dish in their enclosure.
No special requirements. You may not even need one.
Decorations and Hiding Spots
Subulina octona will appreciate all types of leaves, wood, plants, and other decorations to enrich the environment.
Give the moss, they like to sit and hide in it.
It is highly recommended to have at least a wooden stick in their tank. They do enjoy eating lichens and rasp on wood and eat tree bark.
Tip: Before using the wood, you need to prepare it properly.
- Do not pick any wood in the city.
- Do not go for trees that may have been sprayed with pesticides.
- It must be completely dead.
- Do not use soap or any chemical cleansers.
- Just boil it for 5-10 minutes.
|DO NOT collect wild species.
Subulina octona is a land snail widely distributed in Brazil with medical and veterinary importance due to its participation as an intermediate host in the life cycle of helminths such as parasites of the domestic cat, birds, canids, rodents, and humans.
Breeding Subulina Octona
Subulina octona is a hermaphroditic land snail. It means that each snail has both male and female reproductive organs, and can reproduce through internal self-fertilization.
At the time of reproductive maturity, the snails are on an average of 11 mm (0.43 inches) in shell length or 63 – 70 days old.
According to the studies, Subulina octona is an egg-retaining species. Basically, a great part of the embryonic development takes place inside the parent’s body resulting in the release of eggs containing well-developed embryos.
Note: The presence of eggs can be seen through the transparent shell (in the first two whorls).
Subulina octona hold eggs inside their bodies until the eggs are a few days from hatching. Then they borrow them into the soil.
The average number of eggs laid per reproductive event is 4-5. During their life, snails perform on average 18-33 reproductive events, producing an average of 124 eggs.
After hatching, Subulina octona starts out as a tiny yellow blob (1 mm or 0.039 inches long) with about 2 segments on their shell.
Subulina Octona and Suitable Tankmates
Even though Subulina Octona is a land species, they can be used as feeders for crayfish, crabs, loaches, Pufferfish, Oscars, or other predatory land snails like the Rosy Wolfsnail.
Besides that, they can live and thrive almost anywhere.
Subulina octona is a species of small, tropical, air-breathing land snail. This species is a combination of relatively long lifespan, early maturity, prolific breeding, and ease of care.
You will like watching them in bigger numbers as they swarm other food.
- Life history of Subulina octona (Brugüière) (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Subulinidae) based on four-year laboratory observations and a comparative histological analysis of egg-retaining… Article in Journal of Natural History · June 2018 52, NO. 23–24, 1551–1569
- Souza, B.A.; Silva, L.C.D.; Chicarino, E.D.; Bessa, E.C.A. Preliminary phytochemical screening and molluscicidal activity of the aqueous extract of Bidens pilosaLinné(Asteraceae) in Subulina octona(Mollusca, Subulinidade).Acad. Bras. Ciê2013,85, 1557–1566.
- Evaluation of the reproductive profile of Subulina octona (Gastropoda, Subulinidae) experimentally infected by Paratanaisia bragai (Digenea, Eucotylidae). J. Biol., 2021 , vol. 81, no. 4 pp.999-1006
- Paropeas achatinaceum (Pfeiffer, 1846) and Other Alien Subulinine and Opeatine Land Snails in European Greenhouses (Gastropoda, Achatinidae). Malacologia, 63(1) : 123-130