Readers’ Questions – Snail Starter Kit

Hi there,

My son received a Komodo Giant African Land Snail Starter Kit for Christmas and before we purchase a snail we have some questions, I hope you can help.


1. I’ve read lots of different information about what substrate can be used, top soil, all purpose compost, peat based compost, coir etc. Are all of these ok or only some of them?


2. Is Spaghnum Moss to be used in addition to the soil/compost/coir?


3. Is the dual temp/humidity gauge place inside or outside of the tank, and whereabouts?


4. Is a thermostat definitely required? If so, is this attached to the heat mat?


Apologies for all the questions, it’s a whole new world and we want to make sure we do things right.


Thanks so much,
Vicky & Ike

Hi Vicky and Ike!

1. All of the substrate types you mention should be fine. The reason so many are suggested is that it can be hard to find certain types in certain areas and some are more expensive than others. I suggest initially using whichever is best for you, but if you find your snails don’t react well to it (i.e. they hide in their shells or spend a lot of time on the sides of the tank) then consider trying a different type.

2. Most people use sphagnum moss on top of another soil-based substrate, although this is not mandatory.

3. You should put the temperature and humidity gauge inside the tank, so it gives you an accurate reading of the habitat your snails are experiencing.

4. You don’t necessarily need a thermostat, although it does help you keep your tank at a consistent temperature. It should be put in the tank, so it gives you an accurate reading. However if you have set your heat mat at a specific temperature, this should be enough for you to know roughly how hot the tank is.

Do not apologise for asking questions! It is always best to ask if you are unsure, especially when the welfare of an animal is at stake.

Good luck with your snails!

Readers’ Questions – Heat Mat for Snail Babies

Good afternoon, I would appreciate if you could provide me with some information.


We purchased 2 baby snails on Saturday, which came with a tank, soil base, cuttlefish and a piece of cucumber, we have sprayed it for the last 3 days with warm water and just today changed the piece of cucumber.


I have read that we may need a heat mat, which I have just purchased today, but on all the sites I have looked on it refers to the snails when they have grown, so I am unsure whether to use the mat or not.


Would you please tell me exactly what equipment I need and the general care day to day of these babies as I want to look after them well for my little boy?


Thank you in advance for your time,
Mrs. Mellors

Hi Mrs. Mellors,

It’s great that you are so keen to take good care of your snails for your little boy!

Regardless of their age, giant African land snails should be kept at a temperature of between 20-26 degrees Celsius, which usually means a heat mat is required, especially in colder months. You can find a good heat mat suitable for most tanks or terrariums in your local pet shop or on Amazon. (I’ve included some useful links below).

Both adult and baby GALS also require a humid habitat – around 80% humidity – so spray them regularly with water. You can check the humidity of the tank using a hygrometer (Links below).

Read more about heating your snail tank here.

How To Choose a Tank For Your Giant African Land Snails

Choosing the right tank for you and your Giant African Land Snails is important, as it will be their home for the forseeable future! There are a couple of things you should consider before purchasing a snail tank:


reptile vivarium for african land snails

If you have a lot of money to spare on a tank, then a reptile vivarium is a good option. Prices range from £30 for small vivariums to hundreds of pounds for large ones. Vivariums usually have sliding doors on the front so you easily feed and get access to your snails. They are also attractive as they come in a wide range of wood colours and are easy to keep at a constant temperature, which is important for African snails. However, because these type of tanks are made of glass, they can be heavy and difficult to move, which could be a problem when it comes to cleaning the tank and changing the substrate.

small fish tank for snails

Fish tanks are a more affordable option – they come in a wide variety of sizes, can be made of glass or plastic and can range from £10 for a small plastic tank to hundreds of pounds for a large glass one. Glass fish tanks have the same weight issues as reptile vivariums and they open from the top rather than the front.

If you have less money to spend, a plastic storage box is a good option. These come in a huge array of sizes and can be bought in many places including hardware stores, pound shops, stationary shops and furniture stores. They cost around £6-15 for a large one. The problem with these is that they don’t often have any ventilation, so you will need to make holes in the lid before re-homing your snails. Also, it is difficult to find perfectly transparent storage boxes, although translucent ones do the job fine. Because they are made of plastic, storage boxes are easy to move around and clean, although it is harder to maintain a warm temperature in them.

Size & Number of Snails

small snails in tank
The larger your snails, the more room they need! A small tank is fine for eggs and baby snails, but make sure you have a larger tank ready for when they get bigger. Obviously, the larger the tank, the more expensive it will be, so if you have a lot of snails a plastic storage tub is a wise choice.

Your tank should be big enough to house a food and water dish and a cuttlefish bone and still have enough room for your snails to crawl around and burrow comfortably.

How much space you have in your home is another factor you should consider before keeping snails. If you don’t have much room for a tank, then keeping just 2 or 3 small snails is a good idea.

Once you have chosen your tank, filled it with substrate and re-homed your snails, they may take a while to get used to their new surroundings. Snails will often crawl onto the lid to sleep after a change to their habitat. Don’t worry, this is normal and they should settle into their new home in a week or two!