Beginner pet snails

Beginner pet snails DEFAULT

Don't place a terrarium under the direct sunlight! This is a common mistake! Snails do not enjoy basking in the sun like reptiles do. While different snail species have different levels of tolerance towards dryness and sunlight, excessive exposure to sunlight (which to certain species equals to a mere couple of hours) will result in dehydration and death.



The terrarium is a substrate. The substrate should be about 2 inches or 5 cm deep. It should be a layer of all-purpose, peat-free potting soil that you can buy in any gardening centre. Hint: check the bag for the pH measurement (which is usually written in small print on the back): what you want to buy is a soil with pH above 7. Soil with a lower pH is an acid and this on the long run may damage your snail’s delicate shell. If you decide to use soil from your own garden, be ready to bring also all the tiny critters inhabiting it into your tank. For this reason, some people recommend “sterilizing” the soil by putting it in the hot oven or in the fridge for some time before pouring it in the tank.


Snails found in forest will happily feed on vegetables and fruit (no citrus, though!). Also, leave a piece of cuttlefish bone in the terrarium (they are commonly in commerce as calcium supplies for birds): your snail will appreciate it!They like to eat cucumbers, lettuce, apples, carrots (they prefer the greens), bananas, broccoli, beans, potatoes, porridge, strawberries, corn  and of course chalk, which is always available in an extra bowl. I'm sure they like even more various vegetables and fruits. I haven't had the chance to try others yet. What they don't need is an extra bowl of water - in the contrary: Whenever they are faced with a lot of water, they seem to panic and crawl for the highest ground available. Also, if a dish is very light, adult snails easily throw it over, flooding their home. Water is continuously condensing on the walls, so they drink it there when it is required, but since there is also plenty of water in their food, it isn't really necessary to use the soil by putting it in the hot oven or in the fridge for some time before pouring it in the tank.


Snails are usually crepuscular or nocturnal creaturesv and they will often spend daytime hiding, so you want to provide them with a “home” to which they can retire. A broken terracotta flower pot will provide a comfortable hiding spot for most snails. Some species however prefer hiding among rocks, while others will climb as high as possible and rest under the lid of the terrarium, and others yet will burrow in the soil, so you will have to observe your snail’s behaviour to adapt the terrarium to their specific needs and preferences.
Snails are also keen climbers and will appreciate twigs and branches. If you wish, you can use a small plate in which to place food instead of placing it directly on the soil (not recommended if you also keep earthworms and other tank mates that should feed on the left-overs).
Do not add a pool or water dish. While some exotic snails (such as Achatina spp.) appreciate it, our local snails do not need it and may actually drown in it.


It is a good idea to keep some live plants even in the small basic terrarium. Ferns and moss are a good choice for a tank where there is a high humidity and a low sunlight exposure.
Hint: avoid using plants which will need plenty of sunlight or other conditions which are incompatible with your snail in your terrarium.


Aeration and humidity are important in your tank and the lid you will use will influence both. There are different options you may adopt, which are basically different compromises: the more aeration, in fact, the less humidity in the tank. You will have to find the balance that works for your own tank.
Aeration is provided by holes and openings either on the side of the tank, or, more commonly on the lid. Check the soil – it should be moist but never puddly. Hint: if your tank is too damp, you may need more openings. If it is too dry in spite of spraying water regularly, you may want to try and cover some of the existing holes with plastic wrap.


Garden snails (Helix Pomatia) are herbivorous animals, mostly they eat large leafy greens (plantain, horse sorrel, burdock, dandelion, nettle, cabbage, strawberries, clover, etc., only about 30 different kinds of cultivated and wild plants), as well as soil and fallen fruit (including rotting).  These snails are not in vain considered serious pests of agriculture. Having an enviable appetite they eat up young shoots of cultivated plants, causing huge losses. The snails don’t have ordinary teeth in the oral cavity, they have a radula (grater), thanks to which food is scraped, crushed and sent to the esophagus.  Due to constant friction, the teeth of the snails quickly become unusable, but for mollusks this is not a problem - new teeth constantly grow in the mouth, which gradually move into the working zone.  Similar regeneration of teeth in the oral cavity is a characteristic of sharks, in which teeth are also regularly updated.


In the daytime snails sit in their shells and with the onset of night and coolness go to feed. These mollusks are especially active after showers.  The period of active wakefulness in grape snails is an average of 5 months.  All summer they accumulate nutrients in the body, and when the air temperature drops to 18-12 degrees, they leave for wintering, digging in at 5-10 centimeters into the soil. They can be buried to a depth of 30-35 cm in cold areas. Fallen foliage and then snow safely protect the mollusks from frost.  Although the snail, having closed in the sink, falls into a stupor, the metabolic processes in its body do not stop, although it is very slow.  Cardiac activity drops to one contraction per minute. During the winter hibernation the snail loses up to 10% of its weight.  In spring, when the earth warms up to 6-8 degrees, the snails wake up, gain air into the lung, dump the lids from the shell and leave their winter shelters.  Hungry and active, they go in search of food.  After satisfying their hunger, the mollusks begin to search for partners for reproduction.


When  keeping these mollusks  at home in the snail terrarium, you have to make a  snail’s house and always keep a mineral additive to the food in a separate feeder - chalk, ground egg shell or other sources of calcium.  Only eating these minerals the snail shell will be large, strong, without damage and the growth of mollusks is markedly increased, the chips and cracks on the shells heal faster.


Keeping Pet Snails: Everything you need to know about snail care!

Pet snails make great pets. No, seriously.

It’s easy to care for a snail!

Below you’ll find all the information you need to know, including general snail care, how to care for a snail, what to feed them, and how to make a healthy snail home. Let’s get started.

Why keep pet snails?

  • They’re quiet
  • They don’t take much work
  • A simple set up is quite inexpensive
  • Children can handle snails (see important information below)
  • They may be slow but they can be interesting to watch
  • They are a unique pet
  • Their food can be left-overs from your fridge

Where can you find snails? 

You can find snails in the garden most of the time. In our previous house, we didn’t find a snail once (and we actively look for creepy crawlies) but as soon as we added a vegetable garden it was almost like it was an open invitation for snails to visit us. We usually find ours tucked up under a lettuce leaf.

Pet snail care

Pet snail home

The enclosure can be as simple or as extravagant as you’d like.  It is can be a plastic takeaway container if you’re only intending to keep and observe them for a couple of days. But if you’re going to keep them for longer, a larger enclosure would be better for the snails.

It’s important the enclosure provides a good amount of ventilation. Snails don’t mind a bit of humidity but they do need fresh air. This is the enclosure I use for most of my children’s pet critters.


We used regular soil from the garden and, because we had it on hand from making a wildlife-themed terrarium a while ago, I also added some sphagnum moss. Both are great substrates for snails and should be added 7 -10cm deep in the enclosure.  Keep the substrate clean and moist at all times. A spray bottle is perfect to moisten substrates and furnishings in the enclosure without making it too wet.

Snail Home and other furnishings

Snails like to hide in dark places, although some like to sit near the lid and others even under the dirt. Providing plenty of places that allow the snail to be where it makes them happy is good for your snails. We added a terracotta pot and a stick for climbing but you can add real plants, rocks and twigs too.

Snail Enclosure

What do you feed a snail?

Snails eat fruit and veggies (avoid citrus foods) but these foods soil quickly. I’d suggest adding a food bowl. It makes the cleanup and addition of fresh food much easier than if you added it straight to the bottom of the tank. Remember to wash the food before you give it to them. Many fruits and veggies come home with pesticides on their skins and if you feed it to them, it will kill your snails.

What do snails eat

Also, snails need calcium to keep their shells healthy, so adding a bit of cuttlefish or dried crushed eggshells to the side of the dish is important too. For a good list of food that snails love and for more information on why snails need calcium in their diet, visit this great website all about pet snails. 

Is handling snails safe?

Is it okay to hold snails? It is fine to hold a snail but ensure you use proper health practices and wash you and your child’s hands straight after holding a snail. Also, I’d suggest that children be fully supervised as people can get sick if they eat snails.

Pet snail for kids

Maintenance and snail care

There are plenty of positives for keeping snails but I love that they don’t take a lot of work. The side of the snail enclosure should be wiped down once a week and the substrate changed once a month. Also, ensure you take out any rotten food and replace it with fresh food every couple of days. Easy!

I find watching snails quite relaxing. They just slither around at their own pace and enjoy their surroundings. The girls really seem to enjoy watching them too.

Caring for snails

We had these snails in a takeaway container for two weeks while moving house and I could tell they were happy when put into their new enclosure. They became active right away.

We won’t keep them forever. We’ll have to decide if we are going to let them go in our veggie garden, I dare say we will.

Check out our snail ebook and printables!

Caring for a pet is a great learning tool for children, but it can also create more work for busy parents and educators!

Keeping garden snails as pets is one of the most low maintenance and cost-effective pet options available. This eBook includes everything you need to know about caring for, feeding, handling, cleaning and of course, snail safety.

The Snail Book

In our modern tech-driven society, keeping pet snails can provide ways to enhance your child’s development, imagination, self-esteem, and sense of responsibility. Inside you’ll find tips and activities to involve your children in the slimy snail fun and reconnect them with nature and the environment during the process.

What are people saying about the snail pack?

Snail Care Feedback Linda

Snail Care Feedback Cath

Plus there’s a heap of great snail printables to enhance your child’s learning opportunities.

The pack also includes a:

  • Snail observation journal
  • All about my snail sheet
  • Poster: What can a snail teach me?
  • Parts of a snail poster
  • Snail vocabulary cards
  • Snail nature craft

See what’s inside the Snail ebook Pack!

Have you ever kept snails?

Tell me about yours below!

Follow on activities

  • Learn about snails, their breeding, predators and where they fit into the food chain
  • Find out more about animals that carry homes on their backs
  • Make a shell using recycled materials and put it on your back, now you can pretend to be a snail!
  • Race your snails. Mark their shell with a little bit of nail polish (if you can’t tell them apart) and race them!
  • Conduct snail investigations
  • Make this fun snail craft

If you like snails you might like keeping mealworms as pets too!

Ten top butterfly activities for kids

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Every aquarium owner dreams of a clean, maintenance free tank with happy and active inhabitants. Even though this is like building castles in the air, believe it or not, snails can get you closer to that dream.

Contrary to popular opinion, adding freshwater snails to your tank should not be a cause for alarm especially when you choose the snails yourself. Some snail species offer plenty of benefits, and they can save you from constantly scrapping off the algae growing on the surface of the aquarium.

Are Snails good for your Fish tank?

The biggest concern for most aquarists is how their fish will co-habit with snails. But some snail species are not only good but also pivotal to the survival of fish in the aquarium. The emphasis being on some types of species not all.

Most beneficial types of snails are bought from aquarium stores. There are other types that hitch rides on ornaments and plants you purchase. These are the harmful kind. If you don’t get rid of them quickly, they can destroy the balance in the aquarium and they multiply quickly.

Because you only want the good guys in your tank, you have to do some research. Even with snails you choose yourself, you need to be sure of what to expect. The size of your tank is one of the most essential factors to consider when choosing the ideal snail because of the population.

Best Aquarium Snails for a Successful Aquarium

There are up to 11 different species of snails that you can keep in an aquarium. That doesn’t mean that all of them are good candidates. Just like fish, you have to consider how the snail looks, how active and efficient it is, and the most important factor of how quickly it reproduces.

A handful of snails can lay thousands of eggs, and before you know it, you have tons of slithering pests on your glass and embedded in your tank. To avoid such a situation, here are some common freshwater snails that make great pets.

freshwater snail

Mystery Freshwater Snails

Because of its vibrant colors, the mystery freshwater snail is the most sought after, and commonly stocked freshwater snail available at your local fish store.

It is an easy-going snail and can co-habit with fish, shrimps and even plants. Even though they grow to a staggering 2 inches long or more, they are peaceful move gracefully as they devour algae.

Don’t be fooled by their slow pace. They are conniving escape artists that will find the most difficult escape routes and use them to regain their freedom. Make sure the tank is properly sealed to avoid runaways.

Recommended parameters for Mystery Snails;

Temperature; 68 to 84oF

PH; 7.6 to 8.4

Water type; Hard

Ramshorn Freshwater Snails

Ramshorn snails are quite the pet. They have a beautiful shell that is a great addition to your tank, and they have an incredible appetite that keeps everything spik and span. They also tend to hitch rides on ornaments so don’t be surprised if you come across a few in your tank that you didn’t buy.

They mainly feed on hair algae and scavenge for food and detritus at the bottom of the tank. Their small stature makes them ideal for most medium tanks.

Recommended parameters;

Temperature; 60 to 80oF

PH; 7.0 and above

Water type; soft to hard

Nerite Freshwater Snails

If population is your greatest fear, you will love the nerite snails particularly the Zebra Nerite snail. It is a beautiful, hardy, and a very hungry snail that requires brackish water (hard water) for its eggs to hatch.

Even though it is sensitive to nitrate levels, its inability to reproduce in a tropical tank makes it the ultimate algae-eater without the risk of turning into a pest. It is a great tank-mate and gets along with plants, shrimp and fish.

Recommended Parameters;

Temperature; 65 to 850F

PH level; 6.5 to 8.5

Water type; medium hard

Assassin Freshwater Snails

The assassin snail is not a pet per se. It is more of pest control method. As the name suggests, this type of snail preys, kills and eats other snails.

Assassin snails are perfectly harmless to fish and shrimp. This makes them the ultimate biological weapon to wipe out pest snails out of your tank or control population.

Despite its dark reputation, the assassin snail is quite the looker. It has black and yellow stripes which are quite impressive even in a dark substrate. The fact that it rarely grows past 2 inches is a great plus because it can be housed in medium-sized tanks.

Recommended parameters;

Temperature; 68 to 740F

PH level; 6.5 to 7.5

Water Type; Soft to Hard

Other interesting but less common types of freshwater snails that are great for your aquarium include the Malaysian Trumpet snails and the Rabbit snails. These are colorful varieties that feed primarily on algae.

What Do Aquarium Snails Need to Survive?

Keeping your new tank-mates alive takes some work and dedication. You have to keep a rigorous maintenance routine and ensure you keep a close eye on the different parameters in your aquarium.

Before taking the snail home, make sure you understand its ideal environment. If you intend to keep the snail together with fish, choose one whose conditions and requirements match those of the fish. You don’t want to keep the snail alive but kill the fish.

To help you understand the best environment for your freshwater snails, here are some of the most common questions about snail survival.

freshwater aquarium snail 2

What is the Ideal Water Quality for a Freshwater Snail?

The most crucial factor in the survival of your new tank members is the quality of water. Snails prefer hard water with lots of dissolved minerals which help to build their shells. The ideal temperature of the water varies depending on the type of snail. If you’re in a cool climate, you might want to invest in a good heater.

Always go for the lower concentration of dissolved minerals because it helps to control the reproduction of the snails.

What Do Freshwater Snails Eat?

Unlike most fish, snails are scavengers. They will eat algae, detritus, and decomposing food particles. Once in a while, you can supplement their diet with a bottom feeder tablet to be sure they are having enough to eat.

Be careful not to over feed the fish or the snails. As with every colony, the abundance of food can encourage population explosion. Only feed your fish what they can eat in a few minutes to control the number of snails in the tank.

What is the perfect temperature for a freshwater snail? – Snails are very picky when it comes to temperature. Most types flourish in temperatures between 72 to 82 Fahrenheit. Other than maintaining the right temperature, you have to consider other factors that can affect temperature like climate. Make sure you adjust the heaters accordingly to avoid a catastrophe inside the tank.

What Should be the Routine Maintenance Procedure?

Adding snails to your tank should not change your routine. If you have a schedule that works for you, you can continue using that. But, it is advisable to check the filters, heaters and other equipment in the tank on a weekly basis.

The quality of the water should be checked at least once a week, this includes monitoring the ammonia levels and pH of the water and adjust accordingly.

You should change 25% of the water in the tank every two to four weeks. If your tank is overpopulated or small, the changes can be more frequent.

How to clean a Tank When you Have Snails in It

Just because the snails are helping you with the clean-up doesn’t mean you should slack on cleaning the tank. Once in a while, the tank needs a good scrubbing. With snails, it won’t be as easy as moving them to another tank. So, you need to be a little creative.

Start by switching off all the equipment and taking them out of the tank. Be sure to check for stowaways in the filters and pumps. Siphon the water to mid-level of the tank then use your hand (clean of course) stir things around and get the debris to rise up out of the substrate. Move the substrate (with the snails hiding in it) to one side of the tank.

Siphon more water out of the tank from the bare side of the tank then spread the substrate again at the base of the tank. Clean the filter and the pumps. Check for escapees and put them back in the tank. Let the debris in the bucket water settle down before adding it back to the aquarium.

How Do I Tell if My Snails are Healthy?

The snails will only be beneficial if they are healthy. Luckily, invertebrates are very resilient towards diseases. So, most of the complications are usually because of issues with water quality or lack of enough nutrients. Happy, healthy snails are always moving around looking for their next meal.

They have an even coloring and a clean appearance. Any signs of fungus or spots in the mouth or body of the snails should have all your senses on high alert. If the snail is also lethargic and in its shell hiding most of the time, you should be concerned.

Remove the ailing snail from the tank and make the water changes more frequent to avoid losing even more algae-eaters.

When setting up the tank, you should remember to have a soft and blunt substrate to avoid injury to the snail’s delicate underbelly.

How to Manage Snail Populations in Your Tank

Most aquarium owners buy snails to keep as pets. But, because they are hermaphrodites and reproduce rapidly, they quickly take over the tank and become unsightly, and you don’t want them anymore!

If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself in such a situation, here are a couple of tricks you can use to stamp your authority and get back control of your tank.

The lettuce method

If you prefer to take the more humane and diplomatic approach to snail control, the lettuce method is the best. The little slitherers don’t always have to die. You can donate them to a friend or the local pet store. If you decide to kill them, they die on a full stomach.

Simply place a lettuce leaf at the base of the tank and anchor it down. Switch off the lights and cover the aquarium. After a few hours, pull out the leaf with all the snails still attached to it.

Introduce predators

If you’ve had enough and would rather watch the snails run (or slither) for their lives, you can use a more brutal and equally effective method by introducing predators into the tank.

Clown Loach

The clown loach is one of the best-known snail connoisseurs. If you have a big tank that can support their enormous size, they make for the perfect pest control method.

Yoyo Loach

If the size of the clown loach is a concern, the Yoyo Loach is a worthy alternative. Even though they are only half the size of their cousins, what they lack in size they make up for in appetite. They thrive in schools of six and require a tank with a minimum capacity of 55 gallons.


The Gourami’s appetite for resident snails has not been verified. There are plenty of reports that indicate these beauties are the perfect counter attack for a snail infestation but, there is no indicative evidence of one munching on a snail. Maybe they like to do it in private.

Cory Catfish

Even though this species will not eat snails, it is a voracious scavenger that will easily destroy and eat egg nests without even knowing. They do a great job of keeping the tank cleaned and they are your perfect all-round maintenance crew.


Even though the Goldfish is not considered a tropical fish, it is a worthy adversary when it comes to managing a snail menace. If you can find a large Goldfish, it can do a great job containing the growing populations of snails. Unlike other tropical fish species whose adult size is unmanageable in an aquarium, the Goldfish is size-able, so you don’t have to worry about the size of the tank.

Assassin Snails

It is not only tropical fish that find snails to be a hearty meal. The assassin snail kills and eats other snails. It also scavenges and eats algae and sinking pellet. If you would rather let a snail do a snail’s job, the assassin snail is your best bet.

 Final Thoughts on Snail Care in the Home Aquarium

By carefully choosing your snails and taking good care of them, you and your snails should have a win-win situation. With proper care, the snails can live up to two years. That is two years free from the algae nuisance and two years to enjoy a clean tank with properly aerated substrate.

With this guide, you have everything you need to keep your snails happy and in turn enjoy the increased movement, color and biological benefits they bring to the tank. If they turn on you and become pests, you know what to do. Just bring in the big guns!

Interested in more algae eating aquarium inhabitants?

Then check out my informative article on Clown Plecos.

Giant African Land Snail CARE - Snail Care Tutorial - How To Care For Snails

Keeping snails as pets have become trendy in recent years. The trend gained massive momentum with the recent pandemic and the quarantine that came with it. Snails are what you can consider easy pets. They don’t need a lot of caring and watching them slithering on their way is pleasing. It is probably much easier to take care of them comparing to other traditional pets like cats, dogs, fish, birds, etc. But you still need to remember that this is a living creature. Therefore, it requires some attention to keep it safe and more important, to keep the owner (you) safe.

8 top reasons why you would want to keep pet snails 

Before getting into which snail species to get, how to find it and how to take care of it, you might wonder why should you get a pet snail in the first place. Well, snails have a lot of qualities that make them a better choice. This might comparing to other pets or comparing to no pets at all.

Easy to keep

Land snails adapt very well in different conditions. You can keep them in just a plastic container, make their own habitat by yourself or buy a glass terrarium from a pet store. It will all be the same to them and you will not hear them complain.

Little maintenance

Caring for pet snails is very simple. You can feed them once a day or every couple of days. Don’t worry about them eating too much. As soon as they are full, they will stop eating. You don’t have to provide them with fresh water. They can get water from their food and from the humidity in the air. You can clean their living terrarium once a in couple of week. 

No need for a walk

Snails spend most of the time on their own. Some snail owners might bring their snails to the gardens for a change of scenery. Others might take them to parties and other gatherings. However, it’s totally fine to leave your pet snails inside its living terrarium all the time.

Interesting to observe

Watching a snail does what he usually do can be very relaxing and interesting. They are slowly gliding from one place to another. Most of the times, they defy gravity by sticking to a vertical wall or even upside down. They are going in and out of their shell home and using their two sets of tentacles. Other activates like eating, mating, laying eggs, are a true spectacular.

Inexpensive hobby

You can get snails at no cost by picking a garden snail. If you are interested, you can buy exotic snails at pet dealers at reasonable prices. The snail’s food is left-over veggies from your fridge. They don’t actually need to be taken to the vet for periodic checking. Basically, the largest expense for keep a snail as pet is the terrarium. Which like we said, can be DIY terrarium.

Great for kids

Kids can take care of pet snails with little supervision from the adults. Once they learn how to keep themselves, they are pretty much set. This is basically sums up to washing hands with soap before and after they hold the snails. They need to be thought the right way to pick up the snail and that is pretty much everything. The snail life cycle is not only interesting to them, but it can teach them a lot of things.

a child hold roman snail

No noise

Another good reason to have pet snails is because they are very quiet. They will not bother your neighbors with barking. They will not wake you up early in the morning or late at night. They will slowly and quietly glide so no one will be bothered by them.

Great for busy schedule

Normally, you would want to take care of your snail at least once a day. That care will usually be provide him fresh food, spray the terrarium with some water and generally check on him and its living condition. However, with a proper setup you can leave them unattended for about a month. They need to have enough fresh air, constant high level of humidity and some food that cannot rot. Having said that, this is not usually recommended.

Best types of snails for a pet

There are many things to consider when choosing the right snail for you as the new pet. Most people will decide based on how it looks. This is definitely a factor but when it comes to snails, there is another, more important factor to consider. Some types of snails can transfer diseases that can hurt the environment or humans. Also, Some species of snail are considered very invasive. In fact, the list of the 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Species has not one but three species of snails. 

Having said that, it is very important that you do not import snails from different countries or state before you confirm it is legal to do so. Even if you got a snail from outside your home, it is important that you will make sure it is a snail the native to this area in case you are planning to release it back to the wild.

Garden Snail

Probably the most popular snails to have as pet is the garden snails. It is a dark-brown land snail type that you can easily get without any cost. Moreover, taking care of this small snail is simple. If you do not want to keep it for a long time, you can just put it back to nature. It is around 1.5 inches in size (about 4 cm) and has brown color. 

a garden snail in the grass

Roman Snail

Apart from the general attributes of pet snails, Roman snails are widely used in biology classrooms for enriching student’s observations. Their life span can be up to 20 years if you keep it properly. Although this species is a legal pet snail in the US, they are protected in IUCN Red List. Killing or commercializing them is illegal in the UK.

Giant African Land Snail

Giant African Land Snails are easy to take care of. As their name implies, their size is huge as the adults can be as big as your palms. One of the best parts about this land snail you might not know: the Giant African Land Snails have an excellent sense of smell, that helps them to recognize the owner. However, this species is illegal to have as pet in the US and in some other countries as they are very destructive to the corps.

Apple Snail

If you are looking for a freshwater snail, the apple snail is probably the best choice. They are very popular, attractive in their appearance in both color and size. The most popular apple snail is the spike-topped apple snail, which has different colors like: blue, yellow, pink, brown, etc..

You can easily find apple snails in any aquarium pet shop at a reasonable price.

Where to get pet snails

The easiest way to get a pet snail is by looking around your garden. Probably you can find a garden snail or a roman snail tucking under leaves or plant pots. You can find them in many parts of the nature. So if you didn’t find one in your garden, you can try to look for them in wooded areas around your neighborhood. Some tips on finding them in the nature is looking for them after a rainy day or during the evening. They are much harder to find during a hot day.

If you want them right away, there are pet snails for sale on a lot of aquarium and pet shops. Those are nowadays selling various snails (from adult snails to baby snails). You can just pay a visit to one of those shops and bring one home.

Another option is to get your pet snails delivered to your door. You can buy pet snail online from eBay, Amazon, etc. There are also a lot of online stores that will supply you in just a few clicks.

How many snails should you get

The average snail is small in size so you might ask yourself how many should you get and keep. There a couple of points to consider before you decide. 

First, most people are not aware but snails are actually social creatures. Many researches show that when given the opportunity, a snail will prefer to eat next to another snail. For example, if you will offer several snails some pieces of lettuce, you will see at least a couple going to the same piece. In addition, when there are several snails, they will usually sleep close to each other which also indicate that they enjoy companionship.

a group of snails hanging out together

So if you believe your new pet will be lonely and want to get him a friend, you can get a couple and put them together. The difference in space is minimal and it will not require that much more effort from you. 

If you do decide to get more than one, make sure that both (or all) of them are from the same species. Keeping different species can be harmful because some snails have deseases that can be harmful to other species.

On the other hand, most snails are hermaphrodite. This means that every snail has both the male and female reprodactive organ. Each can produce the sperm and the egg. So every two snails from the same species can reproduce and make snail babies.

If your mind is set on getting more than two snails in one terrarium, you also need to decide whether or not you are planning to reproduce them. Since they can give birth to hundreds of eggs in one time and reproduce several times each year, you might find yourself in a problem really fast.

The way snails reproduce is fascinating and there are several procedures to apply when you are going to go that route. Probably the most important one is to keep away the snails eggs away from the adult snails to prevent them from eating the eggs. Reproducing snail for a profit is called Heliciculture and there are known technics to achieve that. You can read more about it in our snail farming section.

For those who are not looking into expending their snails population, it is also advised to remove the eggs as quickly as possible. This should be done before they hatch. They should be disposed in an environmentally safe way. If you would just throw them out as they might hatch outside and become an issue.

Keeping and caring for pet snails

As we previously said, snail care is easy. There are several things to pay attention to in order to maintain the snail well-being and the safety of its owner. Those things are very low cost and do not require much effort. The below comprehensive snail care guide will answer most questions a snail pet owner might have.


Depending on how long you want to keep the snails, you may take a plastic box to make the home for your pets (if you just want to observe for a few weeks). Otherwise, a glass terrarium with a fitting lid will be the better option. Make a DIY snail terrarium is also possible without too much effort.

Do not use paper or cardboard containers as a tank. Believe it or not, they can eat the walls and escape.

The size of the terrarium for your snails is calculated based on two main factors. The size of the snail and the amount of pet snails you are planning to keep. You can go into specific consideration but generally speaking, one gallon per snail should be sufficient in most cases. 

Still, even if you will get a relatively large tank of 10 gallons for one snail, it isn’t really too space consuming. 

In any case, you need to clean the home before you start preparing it for your new tenants. The terrarium needs to be thoroughly cleaned using soap. You then need to clean the soap really good to remove all leftovers as this can be hurtful for your snail.

Cleaning the tank after the snail is living there is also easy. Simply take the snail into a temporary place. Remove any food leftovers before they go bad and wipe the tank walls with wet cloth or paper. 

Here are some great options for snail terrarium:

Zilla Micro Terrarium

The Zilla Micro Terrarium is a transparent acrylic terrarium that’s easy to assemble. It’s transparent so that you can enjoy a 360-degree view of your pet snail. Additionally, it comes in the perfect size for your pet, and they come with a latch that makes them extra secure. Besides these features, this terrarium is also leak-proof because of its molded base.

REPTI ZOO Mini Glass Terrarium

This mini glass terrarium from REPTI ZOO is the preferred choice of most snail owners. Aside from having the best viewing for your pet snail, it’s also suitable for damp and humid conditions. This glass terrarium is also easy to clean and features a convenient feeding hole for easy feeding.

biOrb AIR 60 LED Terrarium

BiOrb is a manufacturer of stylish acrylic aquariums, terrariums and other accessories related to that field. For terrarium they offer a 16 gallons (60 liters) tank in a globe shape. The terrarium is almost completely self-sustained. With its led lighting, it allows you to simulate a full 24 hours day. You can schedule the night and day as well as the dusk and dawn. You can also program it to your desired humidity level and fan speed.

Two-Pack Acrylic Reptile Terrarium

This terrarium set is made of high-quality materials that are safe for your pet snails. Additionally, this set features two pieces of acrylic housing with a sliding and magnetic lock, making it a secure home for your beloved snails.


The substrates for snails is what you place in the bottom of the terrarium. It can be many things like planting soil, coir (which is a natural fiber extracted from the outer shell of coconuts), humus, turf, etc. The substrate should be about 1-2 inches thick (3-6 cm). It is important to keep in mind that the snails will probably want to dig into this substrate so it is not recommended to use anything like stones, pebbles, sand or anything that will make them more difficult to dig in. 

No matter what kind of substrate you end up choosing, you have to pay attention to two critical points. The material needs to be free of chemical and free of pests. Especially if you decide to use soil and dirt you find outside. Chemicals and pesticides, can obviously kill your snails. But unseen pests can cause a severe damage as well. 

Some people go through the trouble of sterilizing the soil by putting it in very high or very low temperatures. For example putting it in the oven or in the freezer. However, that is not needed in most cases. 

The pH level of the soil if also important. It should have a pH level of above 6. Lower than that means the soil can be too acid for the little guy and we want an healthy snail. Soil testers are very cheap and you can easily buy it in many stores or online. 

On top of the substrate it is recommended to have sphagnum moss. The moss will make your snail happy and also help keeping the humidity high which is very important. 

Recommended items:

Galápagos Terrarium Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum Moss is a go-to substrate for many snail owners. It’s highly absorbent and sustainable as it’s ecologically harvested. Additionally, it helps control the terrarium’s humidity, which is important to keep your snails safe.

Critters Comfort Habitat Substrate

The Critters Comfort substrate is an all-natural material that is free of odor, chemicals, and fertilizers. In addition, it also resists fungal and mold growth and allows your pet to move easily and freely. Not only does it provide the safest and healthiest habitat for your pet snail, but the jar also makes an ideal home!

Air ventilation

Like many living creatures, snails take up oxygen (O2) and release carbon dioxide (CO2). It is important the the house of the pet snail will always get fresh air. If you buy your terrarium from a store, you probably already have some kind of opening in the lids. Make sure they are smaller than your snail or it might run out (or glide very slowly out). If you are making your own home for the snail, make a few holes in the box so air can move in and out. 

The lid of the terrarium must be securely closed with no gaps. Snail are delicate but they can lift dozen times their own weight. If you cover the box with a small cardboard you might wake up one morning to find an empty home.

Temperature and humidity

Snails are pretty flexible in many ways including their preferred temperature. There are snails species that live in the deserts while others live in the snow. However, for the common garden snail pet, a suitable temperature can be between 65-85 F (18-30 C). When it is too hot for them they will go inside their shell to rest and wait for a cooler time. When it gets too cold, they will try to dig into the soil and will close the lid of their shell until it is warmer.

The terrarium must be kept away from a direct sunlight as it can become too hot for the snail. Without a way to find a cooler place, the snail might die. 

If your home (or wherever you keep your pet) is colder than 65 degrees, you probably should equip the terrarium with a heating pad. You can heat only part of the terrarium and by that allowing the snail to find its own sweet spot.

Humidity is very important for snails. The optimal humidity for snail growth is around 75%-90%, and it can be easily achieved by using a small spraying bottle. You can spray some water inside the habitat once a day or every couple of days depends on how humid the room is.

Getting a temperature and humidity meter is something that can be bought for very cheap. It will make the supervision of the conditions much easier.

Recommended Items:

Tikaton Reptile Under-tank Heat Pad

This under-tank heat pad is designed to keep your pet’s snail warm in the cold without harming them or disturbing their sleep. It’s easy to clean, convenient to use, and requires little energy. Plus, the mat is made of high-quality PVC material that is soft to the touch.

iPower Heat Pad

The iPower heating pad is an under-tank warmer that comes in various sizes, allowing you to choose what’s ideal for your tank. This equipment is water and moisture-proof so that you can use it in a wide range of environments. Not only that, but it also comes with a strong adhesive, allowing it to stick to any surface.

Terrarium Heat Pad with LCD Digital Thermometer

This under-tank heat pad comes with a digital thermometer for convenient monitoring. It features a temperature range of 0-35℃, 0-95°F, which mean you can find the ideal temperature for your pet snail.

Thermometer and Hygrometer Recommendations:

GXS TWU Tank Hygrometer and Thermometer

This handy equipment allows you to monitor the temperature and humidity of your tank at all times. It features a digital screen so you can easily monitor your terrarium’s conditions. Additionally, you can display the temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit, making it a convenient addition to your snail’s home.

REPTI ZOO Terrarium Analog Thermometer and Hygrometer

The REPTI ZOO analog thermo-hygrometer gauge is a two-in-one equipment that features color-coded segments for easy reading. What’s good about this analog tool is it doesn’t require any batteries. It also comes with an adhesive back, so it’s easy to attach to your pet’s terrarium.

REPTI ZOO Suction Terrarium Thermometer and Hygrometer (Digital)

Another thermo-hygrometer recommendation is the REPTI ZOO suction thermo-hygrometer. Its digital display and easy-to-read LCD screen make it easy to use even in low light. You can also easily attach it to glass and other surfaces because it has two different suction cup attachments.

Making it a home

The habitat is almost ready. Just before you are putting the snail in, the last step will be to make this terrarium into a home.

Snails enjoy hiding, climbing and gliding all around. Place some plant pots, small tree branches, piece of bark or anything like that to keep the snail entertained. 

The home decoration should be something that does not rotten or can damage the little guy. Many items that work for other pets like lizards, iguanas, etc. will do just fine. For example cork bark, leaf, etc.

a snail climbing on a branch

How to feed pet snails

Most snails are vegetarian (or more correctly, herbivores). They are easily fed with apples, carrots, cucumber, and leafy greens. Providing them a dish of these veggies once a day is sufficient. You don’t have to worry about giving them too much food. Unlike like many other pets, they will stop eating when they are full and pick up later when they are ready to eat again. 

The food doesn’t have to be placed in a food bowl. But make sure you will not have rotten food and remove it before it gets bad. The food has to be cleaned to remove any pesticides or residue. Organic fruits and vegetables are preferred but they need to be washed as well.

A key ingredient in the snail diet is a source of calcium. The calcium is very important for the snail’s shell. It makes it stronger and bigger. There are many ways to provide calcium to your pet. You can crush empty eggshells, chalk, etc. However, probably the best and easiest way is just throw cuttlefish bones in the tank. A cuttlefish bone is something you can find in any pets store.

In any case, do not feed your new pet with any citrus food and never put salt in their tank.

It is not mandatory to put water in your adult snail terrarium. They usually get their water from the humidity in the air and from their food. If you are interested, you can place a shallow dish of water inside the tank. Don’t put anything deep as they can easily drown. 

Recommended food options:

Fruit Flavored Pet Land Snail Food

If you are hesitant of feeding your pet land snail fresh fruits and vegetables, you can simply purchase this bag. It contains a blend of organic fruits, seeds and calcium that your small pet will love.

How to hold pet snails

Before you hold your snail pet, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Wash away all soap residue and dry your hands. Next, get your hands a little moist. The easiest way to do it is by using your water spray bottle. 

Now for picking up the little guy. Never pick it from its body with your fingers. It is also not recommended to pick up your snail from its shell. Especially if it hangs on tightly to whatever surface it is on. Force pick up in such way can break his shell or hurt the part that connect the shell to the body. 

The best way to pick it up is to invite it to crawl onto your hands. You can also encourage it to go on a leaf you place in front of it and pick up the leaf.

The snail might enjoy gliding on your hands and fingers for a few minutes. But he will probably feel more comfortable in its tank so try not to hold it for periods of time longer than 10 minutes.

After you finish playing with your pet, place it gently back in its home. Then wash your hand again very thoroughly with soap and water. 

Although they can be cute pet, they can also be a source for diseases so sanitary is very important. 


Keeping snails is a great way for connecting with nature and also helping many of us to reduce stress in this busy world. Hopefully, this ultimate pet snail guide helped you understand how exciting it can be to become a snail pet owners.

What next?

Name your pet. Would you prefer a funny name like: Speedy, Crusher, Hercules, Rocket, etc. Or maybe a normal person name like: Jack, Phil, Myra, etc.

Open an Instagram account and get some cute pictures. 

cute picture of a snail pet

Pet snails beginner

pet snail

A pet snail is a great low maintenance house guest.

It costs very little to set up a simple snail habitat so you can observe these cute gastropods at close quarters.

Many people are surprised to discover how endearing a pet snail is!

But some regions, including the U.S. have strict regulations about keeping non-native snail species as pets.

So it’s important to be clued up before you get started!

Snails As Pets

There are several thousand species of land snail, from the common land snail to the giant African snail.

pet snail

They all have a strong muscular foot, which secretes mucus to help them slide along.

Their hard, brittle shell grows with them from birth, so that for most species it’s always big enough for their whole body to retreat inside.

Snail shells can be round, flattened, or elongated. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns too.

But snails aren’t the first animal many people consider keeping as a pet.

However, they have a special kind of cult popularity among those that do!

Types of Pet Snails

Pet snails can be either land-living, or aquatic.

Quite a lot of people who keep fish also have a resident snail or two in their aquarium!

But in this article we’ll focus on keeping land snails as pets in their own right.

Land snails

There are thousands of land snail species, living all over the world.

In some countries, pet stores and breeders sell large or attractive snail species to new owners.

For example:

  • Giant African snails – mighty molluscs up to 12 inches long!
  • Ghana Tiger snails, which have unique high-contrast stripes on their shells.
  • And Decollate snails, which have unusual, long pointed shells.

Restrictions on Keeping Pet Snails

In some countries, including the UK, giant snail pets are rather popular.

Especially in schools and classrooms, where they make a fun but low maintenance talking point, and can happily spend the weekend unattended.

However in the U.S., all of the snails above are classified as an invasive species by the Department of Agriculture, and it’s illegal to sell them or keep them as pets.

Small wild populations have been reported. But wild colonies should be reported to your local department for agriculture for disposal.

Land Snails As Pets

Fortunately this doesn’t mean you can’t join in the fun of keeping land snails as pets!

There are many, many land snail species indigenous to the United States, and you’re likely to have at least one living in your own backyard!

However, we don’t recommend travelling beyond your backyard and removing snails from their natural habitat elsewhere.

Just keep a look out among your plants in spring or summer for some shelled friends to bring indoors and observe.

But if finding a pet snail is as easy as taking them from the yard, what do you need to keep them happy once they’re indoors?

We’ll cover that next.

How To Keep A Snail As A Pet

Pet snails are very easy animals to look after.

They have a few simple needs which must be met, but provided you are diligent meeting about them, snails really are quite straightforward.

Snails need:

A tank

Small fish tanks or rodent tanks are both suitable for keeping pet snails in.

The tank must be ventilated, so look for habitats with perforated sides or lids.

If you don’t want other creepy crawlies like fruit flies taking up residence as well though, you might want to consider taping a piece of mosquito netting over the openings.

A safe substrate

The substrate is what you line the bottom of your snail’s new home with.

Multipurpose potting compost is perfect for this.

You can also use soil from your yard, but bear in mind it will already be teeming with bug life.

Some people freeze soil from the yard for a few days, or sterilize it in a hot oven, to avoid bringing uninvited guests into their snail’s tank.

The substrate needs to be kept damp to protect your snail’s foot, so you also need to buy or repurpose a water spray bottle.

Spray the substrate with water every do or so, so that it is damp, but not so wet that water is pooling on the surface.


A land snail’s natural habitat is surrounded by vegetation.

So you need to mimic that in their tank by adding live plants.

Mosses and ferns are the most popular choice because they don’t need much natural light.

Which means you aren’t tied to keeping your pet snail habitat near a window (where it is also at risk of getting too hot, and too dry – especially if there’s a working radiator nearby).

Places to hide

Chances are you found your pet snail tucked into a crevice made by a rock or fallen tree branch.

They’ll appreciate something similar in their new home too – either a piece of upturned broken plant pot, or a tunnel formed by some tree bark.

A pal

In the wild, snails are often found in clusters called routs or walks.

We don’t know much about their social lives, but this certainly suggests they like a bit of company.

pet snail

If you can find two snails together in your yard, they may be less stressed by captivity if you keep them together.

BUT – bear in mind that snails are hermaphrodites. That is, every individual has both male and female reproductive organs, and any two individuals can mate to produce baby snails.

Fertilized snail eggs take 2 weeks to hatch, so check the habitat every week for eggs, and dispose of them by freezing them then throwing them away.

What they don’t need

Pet snails from your own region do not usually need a heat source inside their tank.

However, snails do hibernate in winter – and they might still hibernate indoors if their habitat gets too cold.

If you want to prevent this, you can place a warming mat underneath their tank, but be very careful not to overheat it, or dry the substrate out.

Pet snails also do not need a water bowl.

Provided the substrate is kept damp, and they receive enough suitable food, they’ll get all the hydration they need from their diet, and the condensation on the sides of the tank.

Which leads us neatly onto diet next!

What Does A Pet Snail Eat?

A pet snail will eat all kinds of herbaceous plants, flowers, fruit and veg.

In captivity, they thrive on a diet of mostly lettuce and cucumber.

But you can offer them pretty much any raw fruit or vegetable from your kitchen.

They also like unscented flowers such as pansies, and some houseplants, including that spider plant which has been making babies all over your windowsill.

Remember to take out untouched food and replace it with fresh every day, to prevent it spoiling.

Getting Enough Calcium

Snails also need access to a ready supply of calcium, to keep their shell healthy and strong.

You can dust their fresh food with calcium powder sold for reptiles. But it’s even easier to leave a piece of washed cuttlefish in their tank.

Cuttlefish is widely sold in pet stores for birds like parakeets.

Your pet snail will sit on top of it, and use the tough rasping “teeth” under their foot to scrape up what they need.

How Long Does A Pet Snail Live?

A pet snail can live for several years in captivity.

It might be hard to imagine getting that much interest out of a snail.

But they’re enthusiastic climbers, and more active than we usually get to appreciate when we see them outdoors.

Snails are crepuscular, which means they’re most active at dawn and dusk.

These are good times to try giving them different foods to eat, or to bring in an obstacle like a brick or interesting stick to for them to explore.

Of course, another advantage of keeping land snails as pets is that any you find in your yard can be returned to your yard once you’re done observing them.

But never release a snail in a different place to where you found it – if they’re not already native to the area, they can have a damaging effect on the ecosystem.

Pet Snail Summary

A pet snail is an unusual choice, but they can be very satisfying to watch as they slowly go about their business.

They’re also an easy way for children to learn about what different kinds of animals need in captivity.

Choose a pet snail from your own yard, to avoid falling foul of legislation against transporting non-native species.

And always wash your hands after handling them, or the contents of their tank!

Do You Have A Pet Snail?

We’d love to hear about them in the comments section down below!

What’s your favorite thing about owning a pet snail? Still looking for a name for your snail, check out this list!


How to Care for Garden Snails - Pet Snail

What to Consider Before Buying a Pet Snail

Snails have grown in popularity as pets. A great alternative to fish, snails are quiet, small, and very low maintenance. But as with any pet, a few things should be considered before committing to care for one.

1. Snails and Your Schedule

Snails are thought to be nocturnal or crepuscular creatures (although a sleep study in pond snails showed that the time of day does not matter), so they may be most active when most people are going to bed, waking up, or already sleeping. If you plan to watch your snail's activities during the day and handle it while it is awake, then you better be a night owl. Be prepared to wait until later in the day to feed your snail and enjoy its slow-paced life.

2. Children and Snails

Some children may love having a unique pet like a snail, while others would prefer a more traditional pet like a guinea pig. Snails move much differently than other animals so they can be very interesting to watch and even gently handle. Snails don't have to have human interaction to thrive, so if you have a child that is interested in nature, a snail could be an easy pet. On the other hand, if you have a child that would prefer a pet to cuddle, a snail may not be the best option.

3. Handling Snails

Snails are safe to handle, but there are a few things you should do to make sure you don't cause them any harm:

  • Before picking up your snail, wash your hands with soap and water. This will help to remove any potentially harmful lotions, oils, and natural elements that a snail may absorb off of your skin.
  • Then, with slightly wet hands, a snail can be scooped up underneath its foot to break the suction.


Never pick up a snail by its shell, as this can damage the muscle that attaches the body to the shell. If this muscle, called the mantle, is damaged, death can result.

4. Zoonotic Concerns with Snails

Snails can harbor parasites that can potentially infect people, especially if the snail is wild-caught. Because of this, you should not only wash your hands before handling a snail to keep them safe, but also after to keep yourself safe. You should never kiss your snail or allow children to put them in their mouth.

5. Space for a Snail

Snails do not take up much space. Each snail should have at least a one gallon tank to roam in. But even if you splurge for a five or ten gallon tank, this still only takes up a couple of feet of desk space. Snails need things inside their tank to chew on and burrow in, but they don't require play space outside their enclosure.

6. Budgeting for a Snail

Once the initial investment of a small tank is made, ongoing expenses will include fresh vegetables and fruits, calcium, and substrate. Cuttlebones that are typically used for pet birds, spaghnum moss, and small amounts of produce will need to be replenished regularly but are not expensive. Overall, snails are very affordable pets.

7. Time Requirements to Care for a Snail

Snails will need fresh produce daily and an occasional change of their substrate. Aside from that, snails can be left to their own devices. They do not require attention or handling so there is no need to make sure they receive a certain amount of exercise each day. The largest amount of time will be dedicated to purchasing and washing your snail's fresh fruits and vegetables.

8. Snail Life Span

Snail life spans can vary, but in captivity it is possible for your snail to live to be a teenager. Two to five years is typical for most wild snails but some larger species could possibly live up to fifteen years. Keep in mind though, if you find a garden snail and decide to care for it as a pet, there is no way to know how old it is.

9. Legal Concerns with Snails

Some species of snails, such as the giant African land snail, are actually illegal to own due to concerns with invasiveness and being pests to crops. Check with your state laws before purchasing a pet snail or simply opt to care for one you find outside.

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Lu XT, Gu QY, Limpanont Y, et al. Snail-borne parasitic diseases: an update on global epidemiological distribution, transmission interruption and control methods. Infect Dis Poverty. 2018;7(1):28. Published 2018 Apr 9. doi:10.1186/s40249-018-0414-7


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