Everything About Pet Snails: Types, Housing, Feeding, Caring, And More

You may have heard of different types of pets. Cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens, pigs, cows, horses and the list goes on and on.

But are you aware that many people around the world have snails as a pet? It may be surprising to you.

It is true that there are some types of snails that you can have in your garden.

Wondering how snails should be kept at home?

They are not dangerous?

What kind of habits do they have?

Don’t be surprised, snails are very good pets and, in addition, they are good human friends too.

There is a certain type of pet snail that is kept in the home, gardens, and sometimes in aquariums as well.

Many people get confused between slugs and snails, so for your information, they both resemble very small differences. Slugs look like snails, but they don’t have an outer shell that makes them different from snails. Slugs and snails almost fall into the same category. 


Slugs are kind of snail that does not have an outer shell. They have small, smooth bodies with moist skin. Slugs are invertebrates. It means that they have no backbone.

Slugs love to live in wet soils, and they have different types with various shapes and habits. The largest slug ever seen is called a “banana slug,” found mainly in North America, and it is a plant-feeding slug.

Slugs move on the ground from the large muscle contraction. They move very slowly like a wave, and their movement is from back to front. There are special glands present in the bodies of slugs that secrete a certain type of mucus and help the body move forward.

As the slug moves, the viscous liquid remains on the surface. When you look closely at the slug heads, you can find two pillars or feelers, also called Antennas. And at the top of each antenna, there is a light eye spot. These feelers have a versatile function. They are used to see, touch and smell.

Slugs are mostly said to live in plants, leaves, and fungi, but in some studies, slugs have also been found to be carnivorous. They also eat meat. They have a very rough tongue that has thousands of tiny teeth on it, which helps them chew and swallow their food easily.

Moving on to their breathing activities, slugs inhale oxygen with the help of those feelers, but they also have a quality for absorbing their oxygen through their skin. To your surprise, slugs are “hermaphrodite”, meaning that their bodies have both male and female reproductive organs, and can lay hundreds of eggs at once.

Slugs fertilize their own eggs. They are food for animals, insects, and birds.


Snails, on the other hand, have a different body structure. They have moist bodies that are covered with rolled shells. Their other body parts include feelers, eyes, mouth, and teeth. When we talk about the snail’s habitat, they are numerous. Snails can be found in rivers, forests, deserts, ponds, and sometimes also in your gardens and plants.

Their body sizes vary, some are as long as 2 feet and others are as small as a pin. Snails eat different types of food. Some live on dying plants; marine snails love the meat of dead fish and some marine plants. Some snails rest inside the bodies of the fish. The lifespan of the snail is from 2 years to 20 years.

Types Of Snails

Basically, there are many types of snails that fall into three basic categories.

  • Land snails
  • Freshwater snails
  • Saltwater snails

Land Snails

Land snails can be found in any dump and shady place such as in your garden under some plants, or sometimes in pots. They can be found in deserts and the river or the seashore.

Land snails live mainly on land, except forest snails. Forest snails can be found on trees. They are usually long and beautiful and can be seen in different colors. All land snails have lungs and inhale oxygen.

Land snails move with the help of muscle contractions. Their muscles act like their feet and move back and forth. Land snails have certain glands in their body as it moves forward, these glands secrete some mucus that aids in movement, and some of the mucus also remains in the ground.

In dry weather, this mucus seals upon their rolled-up shells and helps keep their bodies moist. Most snails are enclosed in the shell until they find a moist or shady spot. This period in which the snail stays inside the shell is known as snail “rest periods”.

Some popular land snails to keep as pets:

  • Giant African Snail
  • Garden snail
  • Burgundy snail
  • Achatina snail
  • Milk snail
  • White garden snail
  • White-lipped snail
  • Archachatina snail
  • Archatina  reticulata
  • Otala punctata
  • Achatina Immaculata
  • Helix incorum
  • Helix aspersa maxima
  • Eobania vermiculata
  • Achatina albopicta
  • Fruticicola fruticum
  • Carychium minimum
  • Achatina craveni
  • Paralaoma servilis

Freshwater Snails

Freshwater snails are found mainly in rivers, ponds, and lakes. Like land snails, freshwater snails also have lungs and breathe oxygen.

On the other hand, it is claimed that, like fish, some freshwater snails have gills and extract oxygen from the water for their survival.

Below are some popular freshwater snails that can be kept as pets:

  • Lymnaea stagnalis
  • Red-rimmed melania’
  • Biomphalaria glabrata
  • Physella acuta
  • Clea helena
  • New Zealand mud snail
  • Planorbarius corneus
  • Marisa cornuarietis
  • Biomphalaria pfeifferi
  • Galba truncatula
  • Bulinus truncatus
  • Radix peregra
  • Bulinus truncatus
  • Chinese mystery snail
  • Bithynia tentaculata

Saltwater Snails

Saltwater snails are the largest category of snails in the world. They are found mainly in salty waters such as seawater, the oceans, and sometimes on the seashore.

Saltwater snails eat marine plants, and some survive on the dead meat of fish such as starfish and others. They are the food of some marine animals and birds as well.

This category of snails is very beautiful with lovely colored shells. Their shells are collected by different individuals and are used for different purposes as decorations and jewelry making.

Saltwater snails generally live inside their coil-shaped shells and also have gills to get their oxygen underwater.

You can keep these saltwater snails as pets:

  • Trochus Snails
  • Mexican Turbo Snails
  • Astrea Snails
  • Conch Snails
  • Cerith Snails
  • Nassarius Snails

How TO Keep A Snail As Pet

People often have snails as a pet for their kids and young toddlers. Elementary school children are said to learn from snails’ activities such as their movements, what they eat, what their habits are and many other things.

The children are very observing by nature. They also have the power to observe all the little extra details; That is why pets are one of the basic sources of learning for children.

If you have a pet like a snail, there are many things to do and not do. Snails are very insensitive creatures, so you should be very careful when keeping them in your home.

Below is a short guide “how to keep a snail as a pet”.

Snail House

The first and most important thing to keep a snail is a reasonable house for pet snails. It depends on the type of snail you have as a pet. Land snails need a moist, shady place to live. Therefore, it is suggested to build a house in your garden for a land snail that is also under a tree or plant to provide them with a good refuge.

Many people mistake pet snails for other types of insects and assume that keeping a snail in the sun is good for them. It is a warning to all of you, keeping a snail in the sun or other dry places can lead to severe dehydration or even death.

The same goes for freshwater snails, they don’t like the sun very much either and they stay in freshwater.

To keep freshwater snails as a pet, it is suggested to build a freshwater aquarium and try to give them a natural home (adding some natural plants to the aquarium, etc.)

So, the first and most important thing precisely to keep a snail as a pet is “its safe and good house”, that is why he suggested keeping the snail’s house as natural as possible.

Add some additional plants and flowers to the tank where you are keeping the pet snail. The only thing to be careful about is not adding the flowers and plants that need enough sunlight. Instead, adding plants that survive in damp, shady places is the best option to add to pet snail tanks or pots.

In addition to that, it is important to leave some lids on the pots or tanks, to provide aeration and a certain level of humidity.

The more airflow through the tank, the lower the humidity will be. Therefore, depending on the nature of the snails you are storing, it is suggested to maintain adequate airflow.

Snail Substrate

If you don’t know this term, substrate means a layer that is needed to hold the snail to see its chemical reactions. In other words, it is a surface on which an organism lives, grows, and performs other chemical reactions.

For pet snails, it is recommended to keep a substrate that is 2 inches deep. It could be a pot filled with wet soil or an aquarium with freshwater.

The most important part is to check the pH level of the soil (the pH level of the soil should be above 7 for land snails), the soil that has a lower pH level is basically more acidic and is dangerous for the snail skin and shell.

You can also use the soil from your own garden, in its natural form. But most people suggest sterilizing the soil by putting it in the microwave for several minutes. This process makes the soil suitable for pet snails.

Snails are typically twilight or nocturnal creatures and often spend the day hiding in their shells. Therefore, you must give them a “home” where they can rest easy for several hours. Even a broken vase or a top of the lamp can be a suitable place for them to hide.

Anyway, some types of animals prefer to hide among the rocks, while others will move as high as possible and rest under the top of the terrarium, and others will still tunnel in the dirt, so you should observe the behavior of your snail to adjust the terrarium to their particular needs and inclinations.

Snails are also sharp climbers and will recognize branches and twigs. In case you want to test their climbing ability, you can put your food on top of the tank or vase and let them eat it.

Snail Shell

Caring for the shell of the snail is also very important. Feeding a snail as a pet or keeping it in a warm and humid place does not mean that you have finished taking care of it.

That’s why it is recommended when keeping these pet snails at home in the snail terrarium, you should make a snail’s home and constantly keep an added mineral substance for food in a different feeder.

It can be chalk, ground eggshell, or different sources of calcium. Just by eating these minerals, the snail shell will be huge, solid, undamaged, and mollusk development particularly expands. Increases the life of both the snail and its shell.

What Do Snails Do?

During the day, the snails sit on their shells, and with the beginning of the night and the coolness, the snails prefer to go looking for some food. Land snails generally become more active and fresh after showering once they emerge from their shells.

The dynamic attention time in an adult snail is estimated to be about five months. During summers and springs, when the temperature is adequate for their survival, they accommodate enough nutrients and minerals in the body, and when the air temperature drops to 18-12 degrees, they go out to spend the winter, diving to 5-10 centimeters in Dirt.

Despite the fact that the snail, by closing itself in the sink, falls into a trance, the metabolic procedures in its body do not stop, but rather moderate.

Cardiovascular action is reduced to one constriction per moment. Throughout 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, enter air into the lung, drop the top of the shell and leave their winter covers.

As they are hungry and more active, they go in search of food. Once the snails have met their food requirements, they begin to search for a reasonable mate to reproduce.

Why Should You Keep Snails As Pet?

One might be thinking what is the need for snails as a pet, as there are hundreds of other land and aquatic animals that can be kept as pets, and they are easy to handle and play.

You may be wrong if you think there is no point in keeping a snail as a pet. Snails make excellent pets, as do other animals. They are friendly and love to play with humans once they join them. You must have snails as a pet because;

  • They are quiet and calm.
  • They do not require much work.
  • A simple setup is fairly inexpensive and is sufficient for a long period of time.
  • Children can easily handle snails. They learn to observe even the smallest details
  • They can be slow, but they can be interesting to see. Have fun enough activities that can be surprising for you and your children.
  • They are a unique pet.
  • Their food may be left-over from your refrigerator. So cheap and easy to grab.

How To Feed A Snail

Snails make great pets, and it’s very easy to feed them, the only thing you need to worry about feeding a snail should be its feeding requirements.

Snails need adequate nutrients, including calcium and carbohydrates, to stay strong and active. The snail’s food depends on the species in which it is being kept.

Land snails eat different foods compared to freshwater snails. Here is a little guide on how to feed a snail.

Feeding Land Snails

Feeding land snails is different from freshwater snails. Land snails love having fresh products like fruits and vegetables. In addition to that, land snails also love having food soaked in water. So if you have a pet land snail follow the steps below:

Step 1:
Select any of the fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, or some seeds that are safe for land snails. It is best to keep land snails on fresh vegetables and fruits. There could be no better diet for them than this.

The following foods are best for land snails. You can select any one of them and feed your pet snail.

  • A variety of fresh fruits such as apples, apricots, grapes, kiwi, mango, melon, nectarine, raspberry, strawberry.
  • Lots of vegetables like cucumber, mushrooms, tomato, lettuce, broccoli, green beans, peas, sprouts, sweet corn, and turnip.
  • You can also give some seeds like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Cooked grains, including oatmeal and rice.

Although snails love having fruits and vegetables in their fresh form, boiling food is recommended. During the boiling process, the fruits and vegetables become softer, and it is easy for snails to chew on them.

Step 2:
Snails are sensitive to any strong chemical or pesticide. Any food that contains chemicals could have an adverse effect on snail health.

That is why it is recommended to wash all fruits and vegetables before feeding pet snails. Once you’re done washing them, cut them off with a knife or chopper and give the snails small pieces. It is easy for the snail to chew on smaller pieces.

Step 3:
Different species of snails have different amounts of food intake. That is why there is no strict and fast rule on the amount of food intake.

It is suggested to start with 0.25 ml of food at the beginning. You can increase the amount later. If the snail is eating all the food it has given it in the pod, add a little more slowly.

It is recommended to remove the extra food after 24 hours. Eating rotten or unfresh food can leave adverse effects on snail’s life.

Snails are not very good at digesting hard foods like cookies or pasta; that’s why we avoid giving them fast or spicy food with a lot of salt or sugar.

Step 4:
Although it is not necessary to give water to your pet’s snails. Snails love to live in damp and humid places, so they can meet their water demands. If dried outside, the snail hides in the shell and draws moisture from the mucus.

But it is suggested to keep a bowl of water filled with filtered water for bathing. Tap water is not recommended; It can be considered as chlorine or any other chemical that can harm the snail’s body. Instead, use a filter or boil water.

Change the water in the container every 2-3 days. You can also use a spray bottle to keep your snail hydrated and moist.

Fill the spray bottle with spring or filtered water and spray your snail and its house. If the weather is very hot or dry, it is recommended to spray water 2-3 times a day. Snails cannot survive in dry weather most of the time.

Step 5:
Snails need a lot of calcium for their shells. Snail shells must be strong and hard enough to protect your soft body. Therefore, a lot of calcium is required to keep their shells hard and strong.

One of the best ways is to keep the cuttlebone inside the snail’s habitat because it is easy to break into pieces and place them in the tank for your snail to nibble on. Or you can also use calcium sources, crush them, and add them to snail foods.

Below are other sources of calcium that you can easily use.

  • Shells of dead snails
  • Calcium powder
  • Powdered oyster shells
  • Natural chalk
  • Natural limestone
  • Bone meal
  • Wood ash

Feeding Freshwater Snails

Freshwater snails, unlike land snails, are omnivores or eat plants or algae. The following steps should be followed to feed freshwater snails.
Step 1:
As mentioned above, freshwater snails are omnivores; they like to eat dead fish flesh like jelly flesh. Add a small amount of fish meat and algae in the aquarium to feed freshwater snails.

In case you can’t find dead fish meat, you can also look for some algae or other freshwater plants at any store near your home.

Algae are also readily available at different pet stores and online stores. Carefully read the instructions on the package and add the amount mentioned on it. Don’t overfeed your snails. Just add the algae discs that are mentioned.

Step 2:
In addition to algae and dead fish meat, freshwater snails also love having blanched vegetables. When blanching vegetables, this means boiling them in hot water for 2 minutes and then soaking them in ice water.

It is better to cut the pieces into small cubes and feed the snails. Freshwater snails especially like to eat shelled peas, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, and iceberg lettuce.

Don’t add raw fruits and vegetables to freshwater snails. Blanched vegetables always work for water species. Follow the instructions below carefully.

  • Chop the vegetables into very small cubes with a kitchen knife or chopper.
  • First, add a small amount of food and watch how fast your snail eats.
  • Feed more food if it has finished the previous one.
  • Remove food, if not eaten for more than 24 hours.
  • Rotten food should be removed from the aquarium as soon as possible.

Step 3:
Like land snails, freshwater snails also need a lot of calcium for their shells. The freshwater snail needs calcium to make its shell even stronger and harder.

The harder the shell, the more secure the snail would feel. Therefore, it is recommended to add additional sources of calcium in your tanks.

The following are some of the main sources of calcium for freshwater snails.

  • Cuttlebone
  • Shells of dead snails
  • Oyster shells
  • Natural limestone.

Remember, natural limestone can increase the pH level of the water. That is why it uses very little quantity.

Step 4:
Different snails have different eating habits. Many people panic if their snails don’t eat too much or eat too much. That is why it is recommended to worry about a healthcare professional and discuss your snail’s diet plan appropriately.

Also, it is important to note how many species you are keeping in the aquarium and whether or not the food is properly divided between them.

It is best to get all instructions from the pet store when buying them or consult a vet otherwise.

  • You can learn after a test or some mistakes on how to feed your snail properly.
  • If your snail is not eating all the food you have given it, try experimenting with the least amount of different food options.
  • The best advice is to give the freshwater snail as much food as it can eat in 3 minutes. Remove the rest of the food. Your snail could already be full.
  • Add some additional food sources for your snails as well. The more food options you would have, the healthier it would be.
  • Sometimes snails hide in their shells for a long time; At that time, there is no need to panic. Put their food in the tank. They will smell and eat it when they are hungry.

Don’t force your snail to eat; snails eat when they are hungry or when they feel like eating. Forcing the snails or adding food to their tank, over and over, will not make them eat.

Drop the food twice a day for your pet snail and give them time to eat.

Cleaning And Handling Of Pet Snails

Proper cleaning and handling of snails are very important. Like all other pets, snails also love to bathe and stay clean and good. The process of cleaning the snail tank or a substrate is not difficult at all. But a lot of care is needed. You can clean the pet snail tanks and substrate by following the steps below.

Change The Substrate

Changing the substrate for once a week is enough. But if you feel the substrate is dirty or soaked within a week, replace it immediately without waiting a minute. The substrate, as mentioned above, is one of the most important things that aid in snail survival.

Dirty, soaked or uncomfortable substrate for a snail would have negative or dangerous effects on the snail’s health.

However, changing the substrate is not a difficult job, but it requires a lot of care. You can change the substrate of the snail in the following steps mentioned below.

Potting Soil

Potting soil is difficult to clean with water or by spraying water or any other cleaning liquid because the soil particles are very small. It might be possible to place it on a sieve with small gaps (holes or lids) and then dry pressed.

Although the feasibility or effectiveness of this procedure is still questionable. It tends to disinfect on the grill by heating it to 200 ° C for 1-2 hours. It should be noted that dry soil is permeable and must be soaked before snails return to it. Plus, it stores heat well, so make sure it’s completely cold before returning it to your tank.


Some types of peat are huge grained and maybe washed if done through a strainer or any type of colander. It tends to disinfect on the stove by heating it to 200 ° C for 1-2 hours. It should be noted that the dried peat is permeable and must be saturated before replacing the snails.

Plus, it also stores heat, so make sure it’s cool before returning the snail to its tank.


The process of sterilizing or cleaning the coir is the same as that of potting soil. Coir can be sterilized by heating it in the oven at 200 ° C for almost 1-2 hours. Like the previous two substrates, the coir also absorbs heat, so it is recommended to let it dry before replacing the snails. Also, hydrating the coir before the snail returns is also a good way.

Tank Cleaning

It is recommended to wash the tank at least once a week. In the event you discover mold that is harmful to freshwater snails, wash or sterilize the tank immediately.

The tanks can be easily washed with hot water that kills harmful bacteria or with any prescription sterilizer. Remember that adding any kind of soap or detergent to the tank is not recommended. These chemicals that contain detergents and liquids are quite harmful to snails.

While washing or cleaning the tank, keep in mind the following points:

  • While cleaning the tank, keep the snails in a plastic jar with a lid. Make sure the bottle has some holes or a cap for proper ventilation.
  • Wash the decoration or any other substance present in the tank. If something is rotten, remove it or replace it with the new one.

Bathing Your Snails

Pet snails love to bathe. Giving snails a good bath is not only what they love, but it is also good for their health.

It is recommended to give the snails a good bath once or twice a week. To do this, fill a bowl with filtered or spring water and carefully put snails into it.

Now keep adding a small amount of water to the snail’s body and rub it with a soft toothbrush (rub the shell, not its soft body) don’t rub it too much, it could damage the snail shell. Let it soak in the water for a while and then put it back in your pot/tank.

Do not use any kind of soap or cleaning liquid in the bathwater. A bowl of freshwater is enough to keep the snail clean, fresh and active.

Snails after bathing have been noted to become fresher and more active.