Invertebrates - Giant Land Snails

These monstrous molluscs can weigh nearly 1kg (2.2lb) and may have a shell length of more than 25cm (10in) when fully-grown. Giant land snails (Achatina fulica) are popular as childrens’s pets, being very easy to look after and simply requiring just warm surroundings and generous helpings of greenfood and fruit. They should also be offered a calcium supplement in the form of a piece of cuttlebone which they can rasp with their mouthparts. This helps to keep their shell healthy.

A plant propagator, which gives off gentle heat, will serve to keep the snails warm, and you also need to ensure their surroundings are relatively humid, spraying here as necessary. Orchid bark can be used as a floor covering. The colour of their shells can vary widely, with some being more attractively marked than others. The shell has prominent dark reddish-purple areas with fawn and white streaking.

Once they are used to being picked up, giant land snails will not withdraw into their shells. Take care not to drop them because a fracture of the shell can be fatal. These molluscs are surprisingly powerful in terms of their grip and their strength when it comes to pushing up the lid on their quarters.giant land snails with food

Since giant land snails are hermaphrodite, possessing both male and female sex organs in their bodies, so there is no need to worry about sexing them for breeding purposes. Two housed together will produce fertile eggs, which are laid in a jelly-like covering. In fact, you are likely to be overrun with young snails, unless you are prepared to destroy unwanted eggs before they start to develop, by dropping them into boiling water.

Each snail can lay 600 eggs a year. Their huge reproductive potential means that they are banned from some countries such as the USA, where it is feared that might devastate crops were they to escape into the wild. The eggs take roughly 10 days to hatch, and the young snails will grow quickly. They will be mature by 9 months old, and can live for about 5 years on average.