Facts About Giant African Land Snails
Giant African Land Snails make great and rewarding pets for both adults and children, however, they can live for up to ten years in captivity (although usually around 5-7 years), so the decision to start keeping snails shouldn’t be made lightly.
"Giant African Land Snail(s)" is often shortened to "GALS".
The most common species of Giant African Land Snail is Achatina fulica. They can be identified by their mottled brown, conical-shaped shells. This species of snail is originally from East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania). They are considered pests in many countries and are illegal in the USA. Because of their pest status, it is illegal to set them or their eggs free in the UK.
Other popular species of snail are Achatina achatina (Tiger snails), Archachatina marginata and Achatina zanzibarica.
All species of snail are hermaphrodites, which means that they have both male & female reproductive organs. They can self-fertilise, so you can still get fertilised eggs from keeping a single snail.
Giant African Land Snails can grow up to 12cm in length and weight up to 600g. Most of their growth is achieved in the first year of their life, so after 12 months you can generally see the maximum size your snail will reach.
Snails have thousands of teeth, which are arranged in rows on a chitinous ribbon and together form the Radula. The Radula is used to scrape and grind off pieces of their food - this is called rasping.
Snails are generally nocturnal but seem to enjoy being handled at any time of the day. Find out more about how to handle snails.
Surprisingly, snails can get bored if they are not entertained so it is important to provide them with places to hide like plastic flowerpots and large pieces of bark. Snails also love burrowing, so some kind of soil or peat to line the tank is essential. Learn more about soil and substrate for snails.
It is widely assumed that Giant African Land Snails prefer to live in the company of other snails, and that they are less active when kept on their own. There is not much scientific evidence to support this, although most people who keep snails seem to find that they group together when sleeping, suggesting that they are happier with other snails around.