Acquired: Bred invertebrate myself
0216, South Africa
Posted May 12, 2015
I am not at all sure that snails can be considered pets, but in my case, I go to some lengths to protect the giant snails that live on my property. To be sure, they were not always present, but somehow they have spread into my area years ago, and since they are here now, they are entitled to my protection.
Not that I keep them in vivaria, or anything like that, but to protect them from being collected to be served in the oriental restuarants in my town, I have built a large enclosure with inward sloping walls so they cannot escape. I have no problem with snails getting eaten, but then they must be eaten by their natural predators- not by people in restaurants at prices that would make your hair stand up. Nevertheless, snails of all species are destructive, and since none of the measures I have taken to protect my garden against them have ever been successful, there was nothing for it but to perform a snail patrol every morning.
The purpose of the patrol is to locate all the snails I can find and then place them in the enclosure, where I feed them. At this moment I must have close to a thousand adult snails, and about a gazzillion little ones, so to control their numbers, I let my geese and ducks into the enclosure twice a week to feast on the litle ones. This might sound cruel, but the ducks and geese would have eaten them anyway, but the purpose of keeping the snails is to prevent vagrants collecting and selling them to the oriental restaurants.
I don't suppose this counts as keeping snails as pets, but feeding them, and keeping off the dinner table is some kind of reward in itself, as is watching them devise ways and means to escape from their enclosure. Not one that I know of has ever managed to escape and I am sure this only motivates them to try harder, because they never stop trying. I often observe them trying to escape, and never let it be said that snails are stupid- if one attemt at a given spot does not work, they will move on to another spot to try again. If that fails as well, they will try another spot, and so on until lunch time rolls around.
I feed them twice a day, and as soon as I place the food on the ground, they will instantly cease their escape attempts to feed. This is usually followed by a short siesta, after which they will all attack the wall in a solid body, which makes me think that snails have a means of communication; how else is it possible for a thousand snails to stop feeding at the same time, and then to engage in the same activity (trying to escape) at the same time?
Speaking for myself, I would not consider keeping snails as pets in the conventional sense becuase there is nothing to distinguish one snail from any other. Even my chickens have distinct personaities, and I would find it hard to communicate with something that is better suited to a group awareness.
But then again, if you are pressed for space, and have the time and inclination to clean off their slime trails, it might not be bad idea to keep snails. They don't eat much, they don't take up a lot of space, and even if you gave it a name, you don't have to invest much time in a snail. Thus if you need something alive to share your life, and you do not have the space, or the time for something that has fur or feathers consider a snail, but be sure to check out your local laws, since keeping giant African land snails is illegal in some countries.