Beginners Guide to Pet Snail Care [Simple]
Snails are the perfect pets for those who want to enjoy the company of their pet without having to provide hours of care for its needs.
They’re low maintenance, and will happily eat most types of food that are placed in front of them.
But before you rush off to buy a pet snail, make sure you read this article to know how to take care of your new friend!
What Do I Need For A Beginners Pet Snail?
For a beginner, I recommend that you create or purchase the following items:
- An enclosure that is a minimum of 8″x10″ and 10+” tall with a ventilated lid. (Lee’s X-Large Critter Keeper)
- Water Mister / Spray Bottle
- Food Dish – without sharp edges
- Cuttlebone – or powdered eggs shells as a calcium source
- Soil – Fertilizer and pesticide free. (We like terrarium soil depending on the season)
- Sphagnum Moss – While I like live moss, dried can work too.
- Small container (used as a place to hide)
We’ll explain how to use each of these items later in the article.
Snails need a moist and humid environment to survive, but also need ventilation and oxygen in the air.
This is why you should always allow for airflow into the enclosure, while still containing high moisture inside.
Really, any container can work in the beginning as long as it has a lid that allows airflow while preventing escape, has ample room, and allows you to observe them.
What size enclosure for snails?
Consider that for each snail you will want about one gallon of tank space. So, a five-gallon aquarium tank can hold about 4-5 snails.
What substrate do I use for a per snail?
The stuff we put at the bottom of the snail tank is called the substrate.
For pet snails, you will use a low pH, pesticide, and fertilizer-free soil. Regular topsoil that is peat-free is good.
We use terrarium soil as it is bio-active, yet free from harmful ingredients. It’s not too expensive and makes the process quick and simple.
If you use soil from your yard, you may wish to sterilize the soil before using it in the snail tank. This will prevent the hatching of harmful or unwanted pests in your home and will kill any harmful bacteria.
Depending on the height of your snail tank, add 2-5 inches of soil.
We’ll cover the soil next.
How To Decorate A Pet Snail Habitat
Snails are not picky creatures when it comes to ground cover or substrates, but if you are providing them with a new home, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Pet snails need a moist environment
First of all, make sure the bottom of the enclosure is lined thickly with the soil substrate discussed above.
Now cover the soil with a layer of sphagnum moss. This helps retain moisture for the snail’s environment.
Again, we like the sheet moss as it makes it easy to lay over the substrate without lots of clumps.
Some people have found success with adding a layer of wet paper towels or newspaper when sphagnum moss is unavailable.
Snails are creatures of the night and they like things to be familiar which is why it is important to give them hidey holes.
You may even want to place live plants in the habitat. They provide height and hiding places for your garden and mystery snails. Be sure you pick only snail-safe plants.
How To Create A Snail Hidey Hole
Remember the small container you found from the first section of this article? It’s time to place it as a hiding place.
Take the container and top it so the top open is horizontal, pointing sideways, not up or down.
Carefully bury 1/3 to 1/2 of the container in the substrate and moss, leaving some of the protective sides of the container above ground.
You just create a mini-cave for a snail to hide in. Congratulations!
What kind of light do snails need?
Snails do not need special lighting or heating presuming the tank is indoors. They hide from the heat and light of the sun during the day by burrowing in the ground or taking cover under leaf litter, and underbrush.
Can I use a Gro-Light or UVB light?
Again, don’t buy or add special light bulbs for your snail tank. They like dark places and primarily are active during the nighttime. No additional lights are needed.
What’s the best snail tank for beginners
One of the best enclosures for beginner pet snail owners is Lee’s Kritter Keeper with Lid in the X-Large size. Not only is it great for snails but it can keep an assortment of small, garden variety pets for kiddos or the classroom.
This model is also easy to clean and can be used on a daily basis without too much fuss.
What To Feed Your Pet Snail
Snails are not picky eaters. They will eat most kitchen scraps (no meat products), fruits, vegetables, and commercial invertebrate or reptile food.
But, we are not happy to give our snails scraps. 😉 So, let’s look at the snail diet.
Can I feed my pet snail fruits?
Yes, snails can eat non-citrus fruits. Apples, pears, and bananas are all on the ok to eat list for snails. Oranges, limes, and lemons are not appropriate for snails.
Do snails eat vegetables?
Absolutely! Snails eat vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and squash. These and leafy greens are all great meals for a pet snail.
When feeding hard vegetables like potatoes or carrots, you can boil them for five minutes or so. Be sure to let them cool completely before serving. This makes the vegetables a little easier for snails to eat.
Calcium is a needed ingredient
Snails do need a source of calcium. Many pet snail owners will add a cuttlebone to the enclosure for this purpose. Yes, we’re talking about a cuttlebone like those for pet birds.
Some people will crush pieces of the cuttlebone into a powder and place it in small mounds on a rock or other surface.
Alternatively, you can dry and then crush eggshells into a powder that can be placed on a rock for your pet snail to easily eat and digest.
You’ve already read that snails need water, not to swim in because they’ll drown, but high humidity is important.
So, when you first create the enclosure and any time you replace the substrate, make sure to dampen the substrate. You don’t want it to be a watery mess but damp to the touch.
Think of it like a plant in a container that is freshly watered, but not waterlogged.
Once the initial setup of the enclosure is done, we simply want to keep the enclosure humid.
Daily, spray a few pumps of water across the entirety of the enclosure. Be sure to hit the glass or plastic walls so that there are water droplets the snails may choose to drink.
No, snails do not need a water dish. In fact, some snail can drown in a water dish so it is best to let them get their water from their environment.
Snails have a lifespan of less than four years in captivity.
Compared to the decades-long lifespan of many other pets, snails are considered short-lived.
But, they can still make great pets for kids or classroom settings where you need an easy pet that doesn’t need much maintenance.
Where Can I Find Snails?
Now that we have everything ready, it’s time to find that pet snail.
Sure, you can search online and find places to order snails from, but when you are first starting out with pet snails, you may not need to look any further than your own yard or local park.
If you live in an area where they do not freeze during the winter, try searching for snails under rocks and logs, especially where this environment is damp and humid.
In fact, one of the best times to look for snails is several hours after a good rainstorm.
Snails can also be found under old boards and pieces of bark. No finding them yet, try looking under plant leaves or the base of plants.
These awesome creatures come in a variety of sizes and colors. Some garden snails can be less than 1/4″ in size. Others can be as large as 1″.
So, look carefully!
Dig a little around a damp area to find a free new pet friend. If all else fails, pet snails can also be purchased from reputable dealers for a few dollars each.
Hey! That’s it for the Ultimate Pet Snail Care Guide For Beginners. If you liked this article, please share it to help other people! I hope this article has been helpful to you and that you will continue to visit our site for more #snaillove!