Giant African Land Snails ( Achatina sp. )

Warning: Keeping Giant African Land Snails is illegal in the United States and some other countries due to the risk of their integration into the environment. They are considered a devastatingly invasive species, and while they are legal in some countries, they should never be kept as a pet where it is illegal to do so. Great care should also be taken when disposing of eggs as they should not be introduced into the wild under any circumstances.

About the Giant African Land Snail.

As their name suggests, these creatures originate from Africa and are well known for their size. They can live up to 10 years although the average lifespan of a Giant African Land Snail is between 5 – 6 years. As exotic pets go, it would be extremely hard to find an animal easier to care for than the Giant African Land Snail. They make ideal pets for children and beginners, requiring very little attention or equipment. They are also perfectly safe to handle, providing of course that the upmost care is taken to ensure the safety of the creature. There are 3 main species;

  • East African Land Snail ( Achatina fulica )
  • West African Land Snail ( Achatina marginata )
  • Tiger Snail ( Achatina achatina )

How to care for Giant African Land Snails.

A plastic or glass enclosure is perfect for these creatures providing it is of adequate size depending on the number you are keeping and has good ventilation. The best substrate to use with Giant African Land Snails is either soil or compost, about a layer 2 inches deep, therefore allowing them to burrow. You can also include bits of wood or bark to give them places to hide and decorate their enclosure. The substrate will need to be replaced on a weekly basis and misted regularly to keep it slightly damp. Although they are naturally tropical animals they adapt well to the conditions present in the average house, ie. room temperature.

What do Giant African Land Snails eat?

Their diet is similar to that of most Molluscs, they need fruit and vegetables and plenty of them. They will happily eat cucumber, lettuce, apple, tomato, banana, peach, plum, peppers, leafy greens, corn on the cob, papaya, green beans, grapes, and even brown bread. When feeding lettuce it is often better to choose the dark leafy types as they hold more nutritional value. Giant African Land Snails get most of their water from their food and therefore a water bowl is not entirely necessary, although by no means are they discouraged, providing it is shallow enough not to be a risk to your snail should they fall in. A calcium source is also needed to ensure their shell stays strong, the easiest way to supply this is to include a piece of cuttlebone.

How big do Giant African Land Snails grow?

Depending on the species a fully grown Giant African Land Snail can grow to as big as 14 inches long, with a shell measuring 10 inches. The smaller species will be fully grown at around the length of 3 – 4 inches.

Breeding Giant African Land Snails.

As they are hermaphrodites, you can keep any two together for successful breeding. The largest of the two will usually take on the role of the female and carry the eggs. Sexual maturity is reach between the ages of 6 – 16 months, this varies depending on the environmental conditions and availability of calcium. Once mated they have the capacity to produce clutches of eggs, releasing them sometimes several months apart in order to give the young snails the best chance of survival. Some Giant African Land Snails have been reported to lay more then 1,200 eggs in a year.

Do Giant African Land Snails hibernate?

Hibernation or Estivation (summer hibernation), occurs if there is a change in the temperature or humidity. In the winter, if the temperature drops to low then they will hibernate by burrowing into the substrate and sealing themselves in their shell. They do this by producing a membrane made of dry mucus which helps keep them moist. The same occurs during Estivation, although this is triggered if your Giant African Land Snail becomes too dry. This can be avoided by spraying the enclosure and snail on a daily basis with luke warm water.

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