Snail and Slug Care Sheet
Updated: Nov 2, 2019
Housing: A five or ten gallon enclosure is big enough for a couple of snails or slugs of most species. The tank must be escape proof, watertight, and well ventilated. The tank should have a tight fitting screen lid with locks or clips to hold it in place. Any additional ventilation holes should either be very small or covered in mesh.
Lighting: No special lighting required.
Heating: Temperate terrestrial snails and slugs like cooler temperatures, between 60-75 degrees. Hot dry weather can kill snails and slugs or make them go into estivation, which is hot weather hibernation. Snails that stick their shells to the side of the tank and seal themselves in are in estivation. You can wake them up by misting and prying them carefully off the side of the tank.
Feeding: Feed on a clean flat rock or tile daily. These are high bioload animals that eat a lot and poop a lot. Use organic produce; pesticides are designed to kill snails and slugs. Wash all food before giving it to your snails or slugs. Try all sorts of fruits and vegetables since different species have different preferences. We have good luck with leafy greens and cucumbers for most snails and slugs. Clean out uneaten food daily to prevent pests and foul odors, and try not to overfeed to avoid unnecessary waste and save yourself money.
Watering: Mist well daily. Daily misting helps maintain humidity over 50% and helps prevent estivation. Water must be unchlorinated, distilled, or spring water. Do not use declorinator; using chemicals to neutralize other chemicals is not snail and slug friendly. Typical water treatment chemicals in tap water can kill snails and slugs.
Calcium: Snails must have a readily available source of calcium at all times to maintain the health of their shells. Cuttlebone is often used, but we have found that the snails refuse to eat it after they leave slime trails on it, even if it is washed. We have the best luck with “Hermit Crab Sand” (calcium carbonate) and since we have adopted it our snails have been breeding. Slugs have no particular calcium requirements.
Substrate: We keep our snails and slugs on a mixture of 70% coco fiber and 30% peat moss, which helps maintain humidity. If you choose to use regular soil, bake it in the oven first to sterilize it. Avoid substrates that have any chance of containing fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Do not use pine or cedar shavings as they are toxic to snails and slugs.
Cleaning: Substrate will need to be changed monthly even with daily removal or uneaten food. Do not use any chemicals or soap in the habitat or on décor. Snails and slugs absorb everything through their skin, and these chemicals, or any other sprayed in their vicinity such as hair spray, can kill them, so do not keep snails or slugs in a room where any type of chemicals are used regularly. If a cleaner is needed, use a diluted vinegar solution as a mild disinfectant and rinse thoroughly. Razor blades are good for removing slime from glass.
Breeding: Snails and slugs are hermaphrodites and both animals can produce both egg and sperm and then lay separate clutches of eggs. While there is no guarantee your snails or slugs will breed, it is usually as simple as getting the habitat to mimic late spring or early summer in the animals natural habitat. Snails and slugs lay eggs in the substrate. Eggs hatch between 10 and 30 days after laying, and baby snails especially need a good source of calcium. Both animals young tend to be exceptionally tiny, rice grain sized, which is the reason for mesh over extra ventilation holes.