Giant african land snails...

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Giant african land snails...

Post by MatsP »

Two questions:
1. Are they OK as pets to be kept (under reasonable supervision by parents of course) by a five-year old - and yes, I know already who is going to clean them out etc?
2. Where can I get some?

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by jimoo »

If you are speaking of Achatina fulica, then no, they are not suitable pets, especially for children. They are carriers of a rodent parasite of the Angiostrongylus species which can be transmitted to humans if a person handles the snail, then touches their eyes, ears, mouth. Several states have health warnings posted. They are also potential agricultural threats if escaped or released and may be illegal in your state for that reason.
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by jimoo »

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites ... ngylus.htm


Center for Disease Control factsheet on the parasite.
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by MatsP »

Ok, that's something I haven't seen before. However, that assumes that they are kept in conjunction with rats that are infected by the parasite. That would be possible (even likely) if the snail was wild-caught. But I expect that captive bred specimens, kept in their own cage would not carry the parasite - I'm basing this on the fact that it's a "two-animal parasite" - the parasite does not reproduce without a rat, and it also does not reproduce without a snail.

However, I do appreciate the advice.

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by jimoo »

True enough. They're also illegal to own without a special permit in the U.S. (per the USDA), though I have no doubt they're not tough to obtain.

Good luck. If I were a kid I'd want one!
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by MatsP »

jimoo wrote:True enough. They're also illegal to own without a special permit in the U.S. (per the USDA), though I have no doubt they're not tough to obtain.

Good luck. If I were a kid I'd want one!
Well, that is in the US, and the reason is not to do with the health-hazard, but that they are a potentially invasive species. I live in England, and as far as I understand they are perfectly legal here (perhaps because the climate in this part of the world is less acceptable, and whilst where you live it may not be that much different, there are parts of the US that rarely get cold in the winter - e.g Texas or California - and once this sort of thing gets into the country, it gets much harder to control where it goes, so it makes sense to not have separate rules for some states).

And there appear to be US-based web-sites about this type of snail, so obviously some people keep them.

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by jimoo »

Of course, didn't realize you were in the UK. The USDA of course cares about the invasive pest issue. Sadly though, I've seen many illegal species for sale here in the States (illegal for a variety of reasons). It's a problem, but there isn't the time / money for proper enforcement. Of course, not with the species, but with many others, the training needed to have enforcement agents be equipped with the taxonomical tools to be able to ID species while in the field is substantial.
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by MatsP »

jimoo wrote:Of course, didn't realize you were in the UK. The USDA of course cares about the invasive pest issue. Sadly though, I've seen many illegal species for sale here in the States (illegal for a variety of reasons). It's a problem, but there isn't the time / money for proper enforcement. Of course, not with the species, but with many others, the training needed to have enforcement agents be equipped with the taxonomical tools to be able to ID species while in the field is substantial.
Oh, sure. And if it was illegal to keep, I wouldn't consider it. I'd actually expect ALL (non-domestic) live snails to be illegal to import, not just these big ones. But I guess big ones can cause bigger damage.

And lack of training and such is a problem all over the western world. I was about to start a political discussion about what to spend money on, but I'll restrain myself...

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by sidguppy »

been breeding these for years, easy to keep and harmless

no parasite lurkin' in mine.
and yes, handled by kids as the snails are at school as one of the display animals.

my species is Achatina fulica, but other invert keepers in my vicinity are keeping and breeding Achatina achatina, Achatina marginata etc.

currently these snails are getting more popular. they're tough, easy to keep and quite long living for a snail

10 years is no exception.

they're also dirtcheap.

there are a few drawbacks:
they eat A LOT! and I mean, really.....a fully grown fulica can and does eat enough veggies in a week to make this animal more costly to maintain than keeping a cat. :shock:
given the current prices for veggies over here, that is.
if you can grow your own vegetables, it's an option.

another thing is they breed and breed like crazy! having a tank with a fully grown Megalodoras to get rid of the surplus of snails is one way to deal with 2000-3000 baby snails each and every year (!).
you can always tell your wife you need this extra 2500L tank with that huge spiny catfish because your kids' snail causes a massive food issue that needs to be solved :lol:

the last thing is they're messy.
seen Ghostbusters? the first movie? your snail is a real live ghost and it's tank is going to be slimed in the worst possible way.
they're the Kings of Goo.
best way to keep them is an old glass (not acrylate!) tank; 2x1x1 footer that can be washed and rinsed often.

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this is my biggest snail, an old pic. she's currently almost 7 year old and weights about 300 grams.
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by MatsP »

Sidguppy,
How come that I was actually thinking that you may have an idea on this subject! ;)
sidguppy wrote: there are a few drawbacks:
they eat A LOT! and I mean, really.....a fully grown fulica can and does eat enough veggies in a week to make this animal more costly to maintain than keeping a cat. :shock:
Good point. Got four cats (and 5 kittens to get rid of) at the moment.
We do have a garden (but currently no vegetables in it - it's winter).
another thing is they breed and breed like crazy! having a tank with a fully grown Megalodoras to get rid of the surplus of snails is one way to deal with 2000-3000 baby snails each and every year (!).
you can always tell your wife you need this extra 2500L tank with that huge spiny catfish because your kids' snail causes a massive food issue that needs to be solved :lol:
Me to Mrs P wrote: Look, these baby snails are taking over the house - I need to buy this big tank to keep a big fish that eat the snails. Is that OK?
the last thing is they're messy.
seen Ghostbusters? the first movie? your snail is a real live ghost and it's tank is going to be slimed in the worst possible way.
they're the Kings of Goo.
best way to keep them is an old glass (not acrylate!) tank; 2x1x1 footer that can be washed and rinsed often.
Ok, I can deal with that bit. I already have plans to take one of my old tanks that will be surplus to req's in a bit and making it "snail-house".

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by sidguppy »

I keep mine the following way:

temperature: roomtemperature. on occasion i give them some warmth, but not too much.
in the past I had a proper tropical heated terrarium for them and as a result they ate through my wallet and left me up the eyebrows in baby snails

furniture; nothing permanent. I tried all kinds of stuff, but even the toughest furniture was either slimed on and impregnated with slime or eaten.
so now I go for the all natural look.
I collect rotten wood, dried brown leaves, pieces of branch and bark (no pine, just regular trees) and every few months I replace it all with fresh stuff of the same.
you can use peat as a part of the substrate mixture, moss as well.
they LOVE lichen! they actually eat the stuff. old branches with algae and lichen get cleaned quite thorough.

food; any green raw veggie, carrots, apples (the harder kinds of). everything must be washed well!
they're far more fragile to pesticides than we are.
for example when I feed them lettuce i buy a whole lettuce plant (what's the word? a whole green crop?), soak it in a bucket full of water, let it stand for a night then rinse it and feed it.

also: sepia must be supplied always or their shells get too weak and they can die. no idea where an African landsnail gets it's lime supply from.
maybe chalciferous soft rocks? they can chew on each others' shell when there's not enough calciumcarbonate around.

last hint: hibernate them and also let them rest in summer as well.
not only saves a lot of food, but snails that rest for the summer get more healthy.

in the wild this species burrows itself at the start of the dray season; it forms a 'lid' of hardened slime and chalk at the opening of the shell (complete with breathing hole) and stays immobile.
they show this behaviour in captivity too; when you let the tank dry out, they'll burrow themselves, close up their shells and stay in limbo until you simulate a new "rainy season".

careful, because then the fun starts!
loads of matings and huge wads of tiny green eggs.
I've had spawns well up into the 250 eggs in a single go.......

baby snails are fragile, but grow really fast. in 1 year they can reach up to 1-1.5" shellsize, in a few years 3" shellsize, after that growth slows down

good luck keeping them! too bad yo're a long way off. I have a bunch of 2" babies that still need a new home :D
Sidguppy,
How come that I was actually thinking that you may have an idea on this subject!
the 'Animalkeeping hobby" has gotten completely out of hand......I got a loooong list of animals :lol:
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by Reginator »

Commonly seen for sale (as food) on Peckham high street in the african shops, from the train station direction peckham park on the right-hand side.....
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by PeterUK »

If i wanted any of the large snails I would first enquire on http://www.bugnation.co.uk :thumbsup:
there are lots of snaily people over there :mrgreen:

pic taken from the internet ..... big innit ? :shock:

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by MatsP »

Well, we now have two snails, bought from a breeder that I found via google.

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by sophie_harry:) »

My Snail has just laid around 40 eggs the place where i got her told me to kill them which i totally disagree on so iev got to travel about an 1 hour and a half to put these eggs into a rescue center its not that i dont want them i love google thats what i called her but she enough for me i dont find her slimy as some of the commenst say shes happy eats a lot of carrots lettace cucumber and cabbage shes lovely i dont think these lil things should illegal in some countrys they are amazing creatures i personally think they are quite intresting im only 16 but when i have my own place will would like to get more of them or maybe one more call it boggle lol but how big can they actually grow? i dont even know how old she is lol but she is a beauty and i love her !
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by DJ-don »

PeterUK wrote:If i wanted any of the large snails I would first enquire on http://www.bugnation.co.uk :thumbsup:
there are lots of snaily people over there :mrgreen:

pic taken from the internet ..... big innit ? :shock:

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i remember finding 1 of these things a pet store when i was 10 and my older sister saw it and screamed so loudly!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by Shane »

2. Where can I get some?
All over my yard. They get huge and my poor gardener, despite hunting them without mercy, can never seen to keep up with them. I'll post some pics and maybe Sid can tell me what sp(p) I am dealing with. Come visit and we will fill your luggage with them.

I asked my gardener about eating them and he said it is not done. Interesting as land snails are frequently eaten in South Africa.

Here is a strange tale. My wife and I were out on one of the balconies last night and found a snail crawling along! It must have climbed almost 20 feet (3 meters) up the side of the house to get there.

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by sidguppy »

Achatina's are quite edible!

they are replacing the true Escargot (Helix pomatia) in European foodmarkets, because the true Escargot is a very slow breeder and in some countries even a rare and protected species. Helix needs specific conditions in it's environment/biotope; it doesn't breed or thrive when these conditions are not met.
hence it's not a very easy to keep snail at all.....unless you live in the right spot (for example southern central France, Le Central Massif).
even then Helix grows slowly. it takes years to reach maturity and that's about 2" max.

Achatina's breed very fast and grow very fast. there are already lots of "snail farms" in central- and southern mediterranee Europe.
the most common kept species is Achatina fulica.
these breed like rabbits. in a few years you can boost them to 7-8"

however the best edible ones are 2". fully grown Achatina's are as edible as marinated pieces of car tire..... :lol: and about as chewable.

so tossing an 8" African snail in boiling water will get you a rubbery unchewable piece of stuff you could use on the end of a pogo stick, but nowhere else

Achatina's are very hard to determinate, but some species have a distinctive shell like Achatina marginata wich has leopard-like spots.

Achatina is an exotic pest! in many countries like the Caribbean it's already a plague of biblical proportions and if I'm not mistaken it's illegal to import in many states of the US.
in temperate zones it's harmless; it cannot survive frost like Helix pomatia can.
if you put up pics of your snales I could give it a shot, also the shell with it's entrance needs to be on it; many species have typical shell openings.
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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by wrasse »

There's a certain beauty about these giant snails with their patterned mahogany shells. But all that slime! And eating them!!! sick1
Shane, I can imagine your house being invaded in a hot year, like a 'B' horror movie.
And Mats - doesn't London have a temperate 'micro' climate? I bet they are on the loose somewhere in deepest darkest Surrey already.....

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Re: Giant african land snails...

Post by MatsP »

I think winters here are still too cold for a tropical animal, but we're not releasing them outside.

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