If you are a lover of gorgeous gastropods, then you’ll adore Achatina fulica, the Giant African Land snail. Boasting a beautiful spiral conical shell, this super slimer can grow up to around 20 cm or more in length and up to 7 cm in diameter.
A native of East Africa, this mighty mollusc is also easy to keep making it a popular pet.
Snails as pets
If you are looking for a low maintenance exotic pet, you can do no better than choose the Giant African Land Snail. All they need is a suitably sized, secure tank with substrate to burrow into and a steady supply of fresh fruit and veg.
The tanks will need cleaning out now and again, and your snails will almost continuously munch their way through their greens. But apart from that they require you to do little else but sit back and relax and watch them glide around their world.
Handling your snails
Whilst they may not be a cuddly pet, that’s not to say you can’t get physical and handle them. However, it is advisable to wear gloves. That’s because their slime is thought to contain pathogens that could make you pretty sick, as well as to protect the snail itself. If you want to go gloveless, then it’s recommended that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water both before and after handling your snail.
Longevity and life cycle
Giant African land snails are thought to live for 5 to 6 years in the wild, and even longer if given the right conditions in captivity. Like many other gastropods, they are hermaphrodites. This means that they have both male and female reproductive organs.
To breed, you still need two snails to get together, but each can lay up to 1200 eggs a year. That’s a lot of baby snails to deal with!. If disposing of the eggs, it is very important that it’s done properly.
Pet or pest
Hailing from East Africa, this species has managed to spread to many parts of the world, not least because of the pet trade. As a result, it is now considered to be one of the top 100 most invasive species. Since it lacks natural predators in many of the parts of the world that it has colonised, it can cause a lot of damage to crops as well as carrying disease.