Thursday, August 02, 2012

A touch of East Africa comes to Kent...

Recently a neighbour who knows that I love nature and especially, creepy,crawly critters,asked if I would be interested in giving a home to some unwanted creatures.
Intrigued, I enquired as to just what it was that needed re-homing. "Oh, the school where my daughter works has some Giant African Land Snails that they've been using to educate the children but are no longer needed." Hmmm..."O.K. How many?" I answered, hoping she wasn't going to reply that there were hundreds!
"Not sure exactly, more than 1 less than 12" Well, I couldn't refuse could I? They needed a home and I could offer one-what's to discuss? Well thinking about it-I know nothing about the habitat they require and even less about the food they consume. "Yeah, I'll do that for you" I heard myself say, at the same time thinking to myself, there's always the internet for advice and how hard can snails be? A tank and a bit of lettuce now and again should suffice?

And so that's how I became the new keeper of 8 Giant African Land Snails (GALS) as they seem to be known in short. I wonder how my other half who's pretty well un-shock-able will react to the news that I now have 8 gals in the garden shed to look after?

I think the species I have is Achatina fulica? I don't know for sure not knowing their history but it all seems to fit to this species with colour and size etc.
These are the East African Land Snails and are one of the smaller species reaching around 3-4" at maturity (shell length).
The larger Achatina achatina can reach 10-11" but I do know mine are already around a year old and so I'm guessing won't get too much bigger? If they do, then I may have to revise my species guess.

Achatina achatina
I'm not expecting my snails to reach the size of the one pictured above this space!

You don't really get an idea of size in these pictures and so I'll try and add one with something included for perspective in a future post-for now though, I'll just say that they are around 3-4 times larger than a native garden snail.

They arrived in a smallish glass tank and so I've now transferred them to more spacious accommodation and added a few luxuries such as bark/wood to hid under and a water bowl (not sure this will remain as they seem intent on upturning it) and they seem happy enough.

The next thing to sort will be temperature control as I've read that they require something in the order of 65-85 F But that 70-75 is a good range to aim at. They seem to have managed at the school for the last year O.K. but I'd like to get it as close as possible for them now.

Food seems to consist of fresh fruit and vegetables with added eggshell/cuttlebone as a calcium substitute and the occasional dog biscuit and brown bread.

They apparently like a warm bath and don't mind being handled, but one should always be sure to wash hands after doing so. 

They are prolific breeders and being hermaphrodites they have both male and female reproductive organs (Blimey! There's a thought) although two snails are still needed for breeding.

Having had these molluscs just three days, they provided concrete proof of just how prolific they are. I don't know if this is courtesy of one individual or a combined effort but these appeared overnight.

I hate having to do this almost as much as having animals in captivity at all but faced with the limited choices available to me- some of these will have to be destroyed at this early stage.It is, by the way, illegal to release these into the wild in the U.K. and in some countries they are banned altogether due to their invasive nature. I will try and rear some as well though and I will let you know how that goes.

That then is the story of the latest addition to my growing menagerie and I will try and update their progress for you;meanwhile,if you can pass on any advice to me, I'd be happy to listen-either by adding a message/comment here, or by e.mailing me.

Until the next time then...


  1. Brilliant!! They look lovely!
    I expect you already know about BugNation but it's a good forum if you ever have any queries! There's a care sheet there too:
    Look forward to following their progress!
    Maria (Rockwolf)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Maria,
    Thanks for the link(s) I'm not sure I did know about BugNation but have bookmarked it now and also taken a look at the care sheet as well. It surprises me just how much the information varies, depending on it's source-some say don't feed a certain thing, others say they love it and it's O.K. Some say they need different conditions to others, I suppose it's a case of pick out the bits that you think apply and then whatever works for you. Thanks again anyhow, it all helps.

  4. Fantastic! I will be following your blog JJ. I am petrified of ordinary snails but those are really interesting.

    Well done on giving them a good home!

    Take care.

    Rose, Loki, PJ and Soochie :)

  5. Hi Rose,
    Awe...nothing to be frightened about regards snails! Thanks for taking time to comment here, it always means a lot, not just to know people are there but that you find my little blog interesting enough to participate.

    I'll be adding updates on the giant snails and also the eggs, if and when they hatch!

    Thanks again Rose. JJx


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