Posted May 14, 2014
As an educator, I like to be able to show my students what we are learning about and give them some hands-on experience. For a particular unit, I brought in three garden snails. Live animals in the classroom work well, because not only do the students get to experience the creature up close, but they also can learn proper husbandry, critical and logical thinking, and responsibility.
Garden snails are very easy to care for. Give them a secure enclosure, add a good substrate, some places to hide, perhaps some plants, keep it humid, and you're set to go. They aren't labor intensive, they aren't loud, or smelly, and they just sort of do their own thing. They eat many of the things that the kitchen at my school has on hand, fruits, leafy greens from salads, vegetables. Snails are great like that. However, they do need some calcium, and a piece of cuttlebone will suffice.
The problem with the snails that I've run in to is that they are mostly active in the early morning and at night, meaning my students don't really get to see them wandering around their habitat. They also bury themselves when they sleep or it's too cold, and that can be pretty unentertaining.
Another problem with snails is that they are illegal in many places to transport across state and/or country lines. Since many people release them into the wild when they're "done" with them, and snails have a tendency to reproduce wildly and eat everything vegetative in their path, this can cause ecological disaster. You're better off looking out in nature for snails, giving them some pumpkin to eat to make sure they don't have parasites, and keeping them that way.
Snails are not without their negatives, but they are insanely easy to keep. If you're looking for invertebrates that aren't "icky" or don't have a ton of legs, snails are the way to go.