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Pet snails (2006/11)

On my September/October 2006 trip to south France I did a lot of walking in the mountains, and came across an old childhood fascination of mine: Snails. There are a lot of Helix aspersa (seen on picture) on the old stone house walls. However, Helix pomatia (also known as roman snail) is my favourite species, which is also the biggest landsnail native in Germany.

After returning home I researched a lot about them on the net, and found out there even are whole communities for snail owners like schnecken-forum.de (German) or petsnails.co.uk. Most people prefer the giant african landsnails, but I don't like their shell shape, even though they are appealing for growing so huge.
Helix aspersa in France
Helix aspersa in France

Helix pomatia are not very common in my area, and are a protected species anyway, so I decided to get baby snails from another snail owner. They got posted to me in a box at the beginning of November 2006.

Snails in package when they arrived
Snails in package when they arrived
The shipping by DHL only took like 24 hours and all five of them are alive and well.

Their birth date is around 1st October 2006, and their shell diameters in November ranged from 7 to 9 millimeters. A complete record of their growth starting January 2007 can be found at the bottom of this page.
Snails in their temporary home
Snails in their temporary home
This is their new home for the next few weeks. When they have grown a little bigger, maybe about twice their current size, I will move them to a bigger terrarium. They are living on pine bark, which I rinse throughly with hot water before use. The food gets served in small bowls (actually they are caps from drinking cartons), which they have no problem locating. This way the food doesn't get in contact with the bark and make it rot.

They like to eat cucumber, lettuce, apples, carrots (they prefer the greens), bananas, tomatoes, broccoli, beans, potatoes, porridge, strawberries, corn, cooked spaghetti and of course chalk, which is always available in an extra bowl. Im sure they like a lot more kinds of vegetables and fruits, I just 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 the dish is very light, the grown up ones easily throw it over, flooding their home. Water is continuously condensing on the walls, so they drink it there when required, but since there is also plenty of water in their food, this isn't really necessary. The condensing is because they are located on my window sill, where the relatively cold air is sinking down in winter. This way they also have a little colder climate of around 20°C compared to my room temperature of around 22°C, and get alot of daylight in their home too. They are night-active, but of course somehow need to know when its day and night.

Tomato for the first time
Tomato for the first time
Here two of them are facing tomato for the first time.

Later the others joined and only the skin of the tomato swimming in some juice was left.

Snail videos

Snails in new home (2.2 MB)
Time is real (no time lapse).

A day with the snails time lapse (9.6 MB)
1 second of the video equals 1 minute real time.
Hungry snails on cucumber
Hungry snails on cucumber



date1 234 5
2007/01d 10.312.4 12.914.215.2
w 0.40.6 0.70.91.2
2007/02d 13.316.1 17.418.420.4
w 0.71.2 1.51.82.5
2007/03d 15.618.9 20.021.524.4
w 1.21.9 2.73.04.7
2007/04d 17.522.0 24.024.728.0
w 1.53.4 4.24.76.8
2007/05d 20.527.4 30.731.732.0
w 2.86.2 9.19.310.1
2007/06d 23.635.0 38.038.239.3
w 4.211.8 16.915.516.9
2007/07d 23.838.9 40.241.442.0
w 4.020.0 18.721.523.9
2007/08d 24.740.0 40.041.341.9
w 4.618.0 20.321.222.8
2007/09d 24.640.1 40.141.442.3
w 4.520.0 20.324.524.8
2007/10d 24.740.1 40.141.442.3
w 4.116.6 18.520.120.5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 = Snails
d = Diameter of shell (mm)
w = Weight of snail (grams)


Snail lying on its back eating
Snail lying on its back eating
Growth record

I measure the size and weight of every snail at the beginning of every month. I have no way of identifying the individual snails, since I want to avoid marking their shells in any way. However, in the last few months they all differed enough in size and weight to identify them that way. Therefore I have decided to simply sort the measurements by size, the smallest one always on the left. Meaning there is no guarantee that it will always be the same snail in one column, however the table still should give a good impression of their development.

The diameter of the shell is measured where it is largest, which is from the entrance (growth zone) to the opposite side.

Photos.Forlix.org Images related to this article

Snails in package
Snails temporary home
Snails eating salad
Snails resting after meal
Snails eating tomato
Hungry snails on cucumber
Snail lying on its back eating
Snails eating porridge

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