What equipment do I need before getting a giant African land snail?
It is important to have your setup ready before bringing any new pet home and snails are no different. Here is a list of everything you need to care for your snails:
A fish tank with a secure fitting, ventilated lid. The size of the tank you will need depends upon the size and number of your snails. Small snails can be housed happily in a small plastic tank. Two adult snails will require a minimum tank size of 2ft long by 1ft wide. A group of three or more adult snails will require a tank of 3ft long by 1.5ft wide.
A plastic carry tank with a secure fitting, ventilated lid. This can be used for transporting your snails during travel.
Top soil from the garden centre makes an excellent substrate.
A spray bottle for maintaining tank humidity. Choose a bottle which produces a fine mist, rather than a jet of water. Choose a small bottle, rather than a large one, as water left sitting within the bottle can become stale within a day or two and is not healthy for your snails or yourself.
Plastic plant pots. Half submerge these in the substrate to create a hidey hole. Choose a pot which is large enough for your snails to move in and out of freely. Choose plastic pots rather than solid or ceramic pots, as these can injure your snails if they fall from the lid of the tank.
Tank decorations, to make the tank more interesting for the snails. Plastic fish tank plants are ideal and packs of 2-3 plants are available in most pound shops. Small, smooth pebbles can be used in the tank to provide variation. Avoid large stones which can cause injury if the snails fall.
A water dish for bathing. Choose a shallow dish made of soft materials and with sloping sides, rather than a ceramic bowl for example. The ideal bath is the plastic tray that baby sweetcorns come in at the supermarket. These are shallow, easily accessible and work brilliantly as baths for snails. If you are worried about ease of accessibility, add some pebbles in the bottom of the water to make it easier for them to get in and out.
A low wattage heat mat. These are available in exotic pet shops or online. Choose a mat which is suited to the size of the tank and position on the outside of the tank using sellotape. Never put a heat mat inside a tank, as this can cause thermal burns if the snails come into direct contact with it. Do not position heat mats underneath the tank, as this can cause overheating due to lack of air circulation. Snails burrow in response to overheating, so putting a mat beneath the tank prevents them from regulating their body temperature effectively.
A thermometer. Position a shatterproof mercury thermometer close to the heat mat to monitor the tanks ambient temperature and prevent overheating. We would also recommend investing in an infrared laser thermometer, as this allows you to accurately take the temperature of substrate, heat mat and the snails themselves.
A note book for monitoring your snails growth and for noting favourite foods, unusual behaviours and any health problems.