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Do Snails Make Great Pets?

Kristin Hitchcock

There are tons of different snail species that can be kept as pets. While these probably aren’t the most interactive pet you’ll come across, they can add life to a terrarium. Most snails are extremely easy to take care of. You simply provide them with the correct environment, and they’ll do the rest.

Because they are small, they don’t take up much space. They are perfect for providing an educational experience for children, as they can make a terrarium “complete” without adding much more maintenance.

As you might imagine, snails aren’t a typical pet, though. They aren’t going to interact as a normal pet would. They can’t be handled very much in the least and can get stressed by “normal” pet activities. Snails do not bond with people or anything of that sort. Therefore, they’re great for those who simply want something to observe but not for those that are looking for an interactable pet.

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Do Snails Like Being Petted?

The jury on this is really out. Some people with snails do claim that they like being touched on their shells and occasionally their heads. However, it can be difficult to determine a snail’s emotions due to their striking differences from us.

Some species may be less fearful of human handling and may be more apt to enjoy petting. These snails are usually going to be larger, as small snails are much more worried about not getting eaten.

It is possible that the snail is confusing the petting for pre-matting activities. In other words, they may think their owner is another snail who is “in the mood.” They may not dislike the petting, therefore, but it isn’t because they are bonding with their owner or anything of that sort.

snail
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

How Long Do Snails Live as Pets?

This depends largely on the type of snail. Some live longer than others. Larger snails usually live longer than smaller snails, but this isn’t always the case. Most snails will live for 2 to 5 years. However, when taken care of, some species can live up to 15 years.

While snails aren’t as long-lived as some species, you should still prepare to care for them for quite a while.

A snail’s life span may depend largely on the level of care it receives. Diet is likely to play a huge role, as does the environment. If you keep your snail healthy, you will likely be taking care of them for a while.

Are Snails Hard to Take Care Of?

Snails are one of the cheapest and easiest pets to take care of. They do not need any attention from their owners and generally take care of themselves. You simply need to provide them with the appropriate environment and feed them. If you do these things correctly, they can thrive.

Terrestrial snails are generally easier to care for than aquatic species. This is simply because keeping an aquatic environment healthy can be difficult for those who haven’t done it before. Getting the ammonia cycle correct is important for your aquatic snail’s longevity. With a terrestrial snail, you don’t have to worry about this at all. If you’re choosing a snail largely because it’s an easy-to-care-for pet, get one that lives on land.

If you want a beautiful, planted aquarium with some extra life, add a snail or two.

The most work that your snail will require is cleaning their tank, which only needs to be done about once a month—beyond spot-cleaning, of course. Most species will need watered and fed once a day, but this will only take a few minutes after you get the hang of it. Even children can learn how to feed and water these snails, though they can’t necessarily be trusted to remember to do so.

snail on the tip of a stick
Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay

Can You Keep Garden Snails as a Pet?

You can keep garden snails as pets. However, it is not recommended to simply go outside and find a snail. Many wild snails have parasites, which are often untreatable. They don’t make anti-parasitic medication for snails. Even though you can’t catch these parasites yourself in most cases, they will cut down drastically on the well-being of your snail.

Furthermore, you don’t want to disrupt the ecosystem of your backyard, which means living the wild creatures alone where possible.

However, it is possible to find domestically-bred garden snails. These are typically much healthier and more likely to adapt to a domestic setting. After all, they’ve been domestic their whole life. These snails have fairly simple needs. They need enough air, water, calcium, and food. Beyond that, it is important to keep them at the correct temperature, though room temperature will work for most snails.

If you’re looking to keep a snail, a regular garden snail can often be a suitable option.

Can Snails Bite You?

Snails actually have thousands of teeth. They can absolutely bite you if they want to. However, they are so small that you likely won’t feel it at all. Some big snails may produce a tickling sensation. However, very few snails can actually hurt you with their teeth. They simply aren’t large enough.

Most snails won’t bite you very often, either. Typically, bites occur when they mistake you for food. If they feel threatened, the average snail is going to hide—not try to fight their way out of it.

snail eating grass
Image Credit: azeret33, Pixabay

Is Snail Slime Dangerous?

No. The mucus a snail produces is just that – mucus. It simply provides some lubrication for them to move easier, especially over uneven terrain. However, it doesn’t possess any dangerous characteristics in most cases.

It is possible for it to transmit diseases, though. This usually happens when the snail is eaten raw or when the mucus is used as a topical treatment. Typically, you don’t have anything to worry about from a well-taken-care-of pet snail. Just follow regular cleanliness procedures.

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Final Thoughts

Snails make very easy pets. Many of them can be fun and educational to watch. Plus, they can live for quite a long time, so children can feel free to get attached. You likely won’t have to sneak in a (new) snail in the middle of the night. As long as you provide these snails with the appropriate food, water, and environment, they will often thrive for years.

Of course, the species of snail matters. While all snails are generally very similar, they do have some significant differences. Be sure to research any particular species you’re interested in before you adopt one. Some snails may have particular needs that need to be attended to.


Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!