Waste King rescues Giant African Land Snail
The specialist collections, clearance and recycling company, Waste King, acceded to an unusual customer request recently.
Waste King’s managing director, Glenn Currie, explained: “One of our customers was moving to the USA and so had to get rid of her pet Giant African Land Snail. We were helping her dispose of her unwanted possessions prior to the move and she asked us to take the snail as well.”
Not wishing to see a repeat of the ‘cat in a green bin’ story which hit the headlines last year, Waste King operatives took pity on the giant mollusc and brought it back to Waste King’s Hemel Hempstead headquarters.
Now named ‘Colin’, the snail is living in a large glass tank and thriving on a diet of apples, bananas, lettuce and cucumber – with some added cuttlefish to provide it with much needed calcium.
A native of Kenya in East Africa, a Giant African Land Snail can grow to some 25 centimetres in length.
Currie commented: “Having ‘reclaimed’ the snail from a comfortless fate, we could ‘recycle’ Colin and give him to a zoo or a school that would promise to give him a good home. However, all of us at Waste King have grown rather fond of the snail – so we might just keep him.
“He could become our mascot – although, of course, all Waste King operatives work much faster than at a snail’s pace!”
About the Giant African Land Snail
The Giant African Land Snails are molluscs. They can live for several years and grow up to 20cm in length. The snails are most active during the night (they are nocturnal).
These snails can be housed in a variety of containers. A good container is a glass or plastic aquarium tank. The snails like to burrow, so when you have your tank, fill it with several centimetres of peat-free compost and a large piece of bark. (If you collect the bark yourself make sure that you soak it in water overnight to remove any nasty chemicals). Make sure that the substrate is kept moist at all times, but not soggy. Leaf litter and moss are also good at keeping the soil damp. The tank should be kept at 20°C - 25°C, which means that a small heat mat or pad is necessary during the winter months. The tank should be kept moist and a plant spray is ideal, providing it hasn't been used with chemicals as these could harm your snails.
If snails are not kept in correct conditions they may seal the aperture (opening) to their shell and wait for conditions to improve. If this happens you should make sure you are keeping the snails correctly. Once you have resolved these housing issues you can encourage the snails to open up again by bathing them in lukewarm water.
African Land Snails will eat a wide variety of things. The best food is lettuce and cucumber but apple, banana and cabbage can also be given. However, if you give your snails food that goes off quickly (like banana and apple) be sure to remove it when it has gone brown so as not to make your snails ill. An essential part of the snails’ diet is calcium. This is used to keep their shells strong and healthy and calcium can be provided in the form of a cuttlefish bone.
All snails are hermaphrodites. This means they have both male and female sex organs so, although you need two snails in order for them to breed, it doesn't matter which two. If conditions are ideal, the snails will produce nests of small, white round eggs. These should be removed very carefully, so that the adults do not disturb them, and placed in a small container containing some damp peat-free substrate, where they should hatch after about 14 days at 20°C - 25°C. Keep an eye on your eggs, and as soon as they hatch give them some food and cuttlefish.