African Land Snails are a giant species of snail from East Africa. They are one of the easiest pets to look after and are cheap to maintain, their slow movement and robust bodies make them a perfect pet for children to watch and are easy to handle.
Achatina fulica have long bodies that hide away in a shell; the snail moves around by using the bottom of their bodies called a foot. By creating an undulating wave-like motion along the length of the foot, a snail is able to push against a surface and propel its body forward. To help them move, snails secrete a stream of slime (mucus) from a gland located at the front of their foot. This slime enables them to glide smoothly over many different types of surface and helps to form a suction that helps them cling to vegetation and even hang upside down.
They have long shells with a pointy apex, they come in various colours and patterns but are usually yellow, brown and white. They have the same features that all snails have including a long body with two top tentacles and two bottom tentacles, followed by the mouth. The top two tentacles hold the ‘eyes’ on top of the stalk and these are used for detecting light and shadows, snails cannot actually see. The top stalks are used for smelling and contain hundreds of thousands of chemoreceptors which detect smells of food in the air from a long distance away and guide the snail in the right direction. The bottom pair of tentacles is for tasting, they hold all the taste buds necessary to help detect if the food is toxic and can distinguish between bitter, salty and sweet tastes.
Achatina fulica are from East Africa and are tracked back to Kenya and Tanzania, but they are now thriving is many places like south and East Asia, Caribbean, Pacific islands and America.
Giant African Land Snails can be kept in aquariums or plastic tubs roughly 45 x 30 x 30cm that are escape proof, with a strong lid and good ventilation. Please allow a bigger tub for more than 2-3 snails.
They require around 4 inches or more of a good quality compost that is free from pesticides, chemical fertilizers and peat (although a low peat compost will be fine). Normal room temperature between 19-25C is fine and a small heat mat can be used in winter to keep the temperature up if needed. As Land Snails are nocturnal, they will come out during the dark when the temperature is colder so heat it not needed overnight (apart from in winter).