Submitted by GSPCA on 16:38, 2nd Nov, 2011 | 4

The GSPCA deal with all sorts of animals every day but recently we were asked to help with 8 very unusual little shelled friends.  Unfortunately the owner couldn’t care for the 8 Giant African Land Snails and asked for the help of the GSPCA to find them a new home.

They are now up for new homes and after the staff monitoring them for a few days they all have new names as we know a little about each of them.  We have –

Rhaj - who is the shy one

Lenoard – the social one

Howard – the sexy one

Penny – the sweet one

Jim – the crazy one

Shelldon- the one who feels sorry for himself as he’s hurt his shell

Winnie – the quiet one

And lastly there is Nelson – the sensible one

Before you consider taking one or more of these molluscs Steve Byrne, GSPCA Manager has said ‘Please ensure you read up on new pets before you take them on.’ ‘Whether it be a breed of dog to a lizard, a tortoise to a gold fish you need to know what your pet needs and how you should care for it.’ ‘You may not think of a snail as a pet but they can make an interesting and educational companion but please ensure you have the right environment for them and you are aware they can live for up to 10 years.’

We have added some information on African Land Snails below but please ensure you find out as much as you can on them before taking one on.

The Giant African Land Snails (Achatina sp.) are molluscs and make ideal pets as they are easy to look after. They can live for several years and grow up to 20cm in length. The snails are most active during the night (they are nocturnal).


These snails can be housed in a variety of containers, depending upon the size and number of snails that you have. A good container is a glass or plastic aquarium style tank. These type of containers allow easy cleaning and you will be able to watch your snails through the sides.  The GSPCA can order these in on request. The snails like to burrow, so when you have your tank, fill it with several centimeters of peat-free compost and a large piece of bark. (If you collect the bark yourself make sure that you soak it in water overnight to remove any nasty chemicals). Make sure that the substrate is kept moist at all times, but not soggy. Leaf litter and moss are also good at keeping the soil damp. The tank should be kept at 20-25°C, which means that a small heat mat or pad is necessary during the winter months. The tank should be kept moist and a plant spray is ideal, providing it hasn't been used with chemicals as these could harm your snails.

If snails are not kept in correct conditions they may seal the aperture (opening) to their shell and wait for conditions to improve. If this happens you should make sure you are keeping the snails correctly. Once you have resolved these housing issues you can encourage the snails to open up again by bathing them in luke-warm water.


The African Land Snails are very easy to feed, as they will eat a wide variety of things. The best food is lettuce and cucumber but apple, banana and cabbage can also be given. However, if you give your snails food that goes off quickly (like banana and apple) be sure to remove it when it has gone brown so as not to make your snails ill. An essential part of the snails diet is calcium. This is used to keep their shells strong and healthy and calcium can be provided in the form of a cuttlefish bone.


All snails are hermaphrodites, which means that they have both male and female sex organs, so although you need two snails in order for them to breed, it doesn't matter which two. For this reason please speak to your vet on what to do as two snails can quickly reproduce into many and there are already many looking for homes.

Health and cleanliness

Giant Land Snails should be treated with the same care and attention to cleanliness as any other pet. Like many animals (caged birds, snakes, terrapins, tortoises, lizards etc.) and some food products (raw poultry and eggs), snails can carry the Salmonella bacteria.

Consequently, after handling snails (or cleaning them out), you should wash and disinfect hands thoroughly.

Please ensure you find out as much as possible before taking on these slimy little characters.




"do you still have these snails?"
"Very happy to advise that Winnie (now named Brian) and Nelson (now named Gary) have settled into their new home with me. I could watch them for hours. Gary's been off exploring, but Brian prefers to stay on the ground and eat!"
"Quack, quack, here is a link to ITV piece on some slimy friends of mine at Gspca Guernsey they are Giant African Land Snails that are in need of homes with a link to their web site to find out more Gert x x"
"Ooh, very excited by this! Think at least one should have been called Brian though..."

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