I've recently started keeping snails as pets, with the intention of eventually feeding off their young to chameleons (after the young have grown a fair bit).

I believe I have grove snails, Cepaea nemoralis, which I collected in the wild (from an organic farm that was happy to be rid of them). These snails are not a native species, and to the best of my knowledge are not protected by law.

This blog entry is to make note of what has worked in terms of keeping the snails happy and breeding :)

Snails can be kept in a variety of tanks and containers. It must be large enough to accomodate them, able to retain humidity, but yet with good ventilation. A tight lid is necessary. The snails need light so an opaque box is out of the question but a translucent/nearly transparent container will be fine - both from the snails point of view and in terms of cleaning.

I started with a larger plastic critter keeper, then moved up to a glass aquarium with a fine screen lid secured with clips, then quickly moved on to a really big bin (so I didnt have to clean as often) usually kept outside.

Snails need a damp environment (70-80% relative humdiity) kept between 10°C and 30°C (86 °F) although they generally do best from 18-21°C (70°F). Room temp - how convenient!

Substrate of loom (steralized and alkaline), moss, a bit of leaf litter, small amount of peat (because it is acidic), a small amount of fine sand, and a bit of sterilized organic soil.

Snails like it damp, but not wet. The substrate needs to be kept moist, but there shouldn't be pools of water or considerable constant condensation on the sides of the container.

A heavy (so it doesnt tip when they burrow under it) shallow water bowl will help keep humidity high and allow snails to bath. Shallow is key, as they can drown. Babies are tiny, so remove water dish if you've got babies (or move babies).

Most fruits and vegetables (soften/parboil hard vegetables), tortoise food. So far, mine seem to particularly enjoy lettuce and cucumber, and will also eat nectarine, apple, butternut squash, grapes, strawberry, and seem to eat a bit of the ground dry gutload I give to crickets. Avoid strachy foods. no salt. Remove uneaten food the next day to avoid mold, fungus, mites, etc.

Snails MUST have a plentiful supply of calcium to build and repair their shells. Keep a piece of cuttlefish bone in the enclosure, and about weekly sprinkle a bit of calcium powder on their food. The more calcium they have available, the faster they grow and mature. I like to use the sticky tongue farms Mineral as it has a range of minerals beyond calcium. Occasionally I sprinkle in Repashy Calcium Plus instead.

Breeding seems to happen frequently, provided you have several adults, they have enough space, the enclosure is clean and humidty high. Snails usually burrow several inches down, form an egg chamber in the soil and then proceed to fill the chamber with eggs. It seems like they can do this all in one night.
Note: the type of Snails I have need to be given an annual cool down/winter dormancy period to keep in breeding cycle.

This is not a fast venture. Snails take their time! From eggs, its about a year until you have something near adult size. As previously noted, they grow more quickly if they have lots of food, right humidity and temps (they hibernate in cool temps), and plenty of calcium (for the shell building).
I continue to collect wild eggs rather than rely solely on my captives to produce.

Its easy and its worth it, if you have the patience and dont mind a bin full of poop to deal with periodically (good compost material).

My panthers truly enjoy the occasional snail snack!


Do you have enough snails that you would be willing to sell some to me for my Cham? :) If you're in the US lol

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