Snails are very interesting animals that it is possible to keep at home, for example, if we find one with a damaged shell. If this is your case or, simply, you want to learn more about these mollusks, in this AnimalWised article we explain how to raise a snail In the home. We are not referring to farms for the commercial use of these animals, but to keeping a couple of snails to observe them, learn from them and release them back into their natural habitat when the time comes..
Raising snails for their exploitation is not an appropriate practice, that is why we encourage you to reflect on it if it is what you want. In case you want to keep a snail for the above reasons, keep reading and discover with us how to take care of snails.You may also be interested in: How to raise a rabbit? Index
- Snail characteristics
- The snail as a pet
- How to care for a snail?
If you are interested in how to raise a snail in your home, the first thing is that you know what its main characteristics are. Snails are gastropod mollusks very common in orchards. There are several species of land snails, the most common being Helix aspersa. Are herbivorous animals that eat vegetables that gnaw using a part of their anatomy called the radula. There are about 40,000 tiny, backward-curved teeth on it. As the snail advances, it rubs them against the upper jaw, which is also toothed. With this mechanism the food is crushed. The food particles are processed thanks to the chemical action of the secretions excreted by the salivary glands in the oral cavity..
However, its most outstanding feature is its calcium carbonate shell, which is made up of three layers that result from the secretion of specific glands. Inside the shell the viscera are housed. When the snail feels in danger, is at rest or outside conditions are unfavorable, it retracts within it and closes with the so-called mucous operculum, which hardens and forms a solid film that keeps the snail protected and moist. In addition, to hibernate, it closes the shell with a kind of calcareous and porous lid that loses with the arrival of the warm season. If there is drought in the warm months, it can also paralyze your activity.
The whole body of the snail it's covered in mucus. This is produced by epidermal glands and a large mucous gland that empties below the mouth opening. The mucus serves to reduce friction, so that the snail can glide smoothly on any type of surface, including the roughest.
Finally, another of the most easily recognizable characteristics of the snail is its particular retractable eyes located on the tips of two long tentacles. Likewise, the vision of this animal is very reduced, so it does not distinguish more than masses and light..
¿How snails breed?
Another well-known characteristic of snails is that they are hermaphrodites, that is, they produce both sperm and eggs, but they do not self-fertilize, so they must mate. They have sexual organs that make a kind of calcium carbonate arrows or spicules that sink into the partner's body during courtship to stimulate reproduction. This usually takes place at night. After fertilization, the snail deposits some 50-60 eggs, which hatch after 15 days. Can lay eggs once a month.
The small snails will be born with a shell with a reduced number of coils. The shell grows with the snail. At the end of this growth is when it begins to reproduce. Its habitat is clear forests of leafy species, crops and calcareous soils. Their average life expectancy is between 2-3 years.
If you want to know more about snail reproduction, don't miss this article: "¿How do snails reproduce? ".
The snail as a pet
Humans have been farming snails for centuries. It is known by the name of heliciculture. It is considered an edible animal, which has been consumed since Roman times. They were already bred for this purpose and, in addition, they attributed certain medicinal properties.
Next, we are going to explain how to start snail farming at home, but not for commercial or food purposes, but as a pet. It can be a good opportunity for the little ones in the house to learn more about snails by observing them live. In addition, if we host more than one, we will be able to witness their courtship and their reproduction. Then we can release them in a suitable environment, which has to be their natural habitat so as not to cause damage to the ecosystem, since they can become a pest for crops. Always return them to the place where you found them. Choose a warm day and leave them in an area where they can shelter. Better in the morning to take advantage of the humidity of the night dew. These cares are also useful if we find a snail in bad condition and we want to help it until it recovers.
How to care for a snail?
In this section we explain how to raise snails at home, in the sense of caring. You will see that these animals require little attention, so much so that children can even take care of them, always under your supervision to guarantee the well-being of the snails..
First, prepare the terrarium, which will be the place where your snail or snails will live. For it, choose an aquarium-type container made of glass or plastic, but closed and, of course, with holes for oxygenation. Some measures of 30x20x20 are valid for a couple of snails. Once this is selected, keep the following tips in mind:
Ideal environment for snails
The humid and chalky environment it is the most suitable for snails. Moisture can be provided with as frequent sprays of water as needed to maintain it. In this sense, the humidity should not drop below 65%.
On the other hand, humidity has to be accompanied by good ventilation to prevent fungal growth..
House snails need good lighting too, but no direct sun. They will be active in temperate and warm temperatures, around 20 ºC.
Food and substrate for snails
Calcium is very necessary in the diet of snails, since with it they keep their shell in good condition. A poor environment and diet can cause the shell to be too thin or break. If these damages are minor, it is possible to solve them by improving the handling. Serious injuries or the maintenance of poor living conditions that do not allow the shell to regenerate endanger the snail.
As sources of calcium they can take advantage of the limestone rocks that we include in the substrate. We can also add eggshells, cuttlefish bones or, directly, calcium blocks. It is enough to leave them within reach so that they ingest them on demand and replace them when they are finished.
However, ¿which is the ideal substrate for snails? As a substrate you can use the soil elements typical of the place where you live, like about 6 cm of earth so that the snail can bury itself and lay eggs, stones, herbs, leaves or sticks. In addition, ¡do not forget to put a hiding place!
As for the feeding of snails, these animals they eat vegetables and fruits, such as lettuce, endive, chard, broccoli, cabbage, apple, pear, banana, or carrot. Remove the remains as soon as they spoil and renew the food every day. As a curious fact, we can say that the young snails prefer the leaves, the older ones the fruits. For more details, don't miss this other article: "¿What do snails eat? ".
Finally, get a shallow drinker where to put water, for example, a lid of any bottle will work..
Other care for snails
The hygiene of the container is very important to raise snails correctly, so that removes feces that you locate daily. Other important cares are:
- If you have to manipulate a snail, do not do it by pulling the shell, but by putting your hand so that it rises and always taking the entire snail at the same time..
- If your snails lay eggs, they will bury them and hatch after 24 hours, depending on the weather conditions. The first food of the small snails is going to be the shell of their own egg and of those that they find around them, not yet hatched. From that moment on, care is the same as for adult snails. Around two years they will begin to reproduce.