User Reviewed

How to Care for Snails

Three Methods:Making a HomeProviding Calcium and FoodCleaning the Tank and Snails

Snails make friendly, relatively low maintenance pets. They require a moist environment and a diet filled with minerals and healthy vegetables. Snails enjoy each other's company, so consider getting more than one. If you give snails a comfortable home and care for them properly they can live for many years. This article provides information on caring for non-aquatic snails; see How to Take Care of an Aquatic Snail for information on caring for underwater snails.

Method 1
Making a Home

  1. Image titled Care for Snails Step 1
    Choose a snail tank. Snails need to live in a moist environment free of danger, and it's easiest to facilitate their needs by setting up a home for them in a glass or plastic container. The container you choose should be well-ventilated and escape proof. It should be large enough for the snails to live comfortably, and portable enough that it's easy to clean often. Consider these factors when you choose a container:
    • Snails need plenty of space to move around. A container the size of a small or medium fish tank will usually work. If you have more than one snail, or if you have African snails, which are larger, consider getting a tank that's on the bigger side.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 1Bullet1
    • Snails can lift 10-50 times their own weight.[1] This means the container you choose must have a lid that can be securely fastened, rather than weighted down.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 1Bullet2
    • Snails need plenty of ventilation. Don't choose a container that's airtight. If you use a plastic food storage-type container, poke plenty of small holes in the top.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 1Bullet3
    • Snails need light. Don't use an opaque container. Find a clear plastic or glass container instead.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 1Bullet4
    • Snails can eat through cardboard. Don't choose a container made of materials that are easy for snails to chew up.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 1Bullet5
  2. Image titled Care for Snails Step 2
    Line the tank with substrate. Recreating the type of terrain that snails naturally live in is crucial to keeping them healthy and happy. Make sure the substrate is sterilized and pesticide free; digging up dirt from your yard won't work, since it may contain substances that could harm the snail. Here are a few different substrate choices:[2]
    • Loam. This is a loose substrate that retains moisture well but also drains efficiently. If you want to include live plants in your tank, make sure you choose a loam that is conducive to growing the plants you want to grow.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 2Bullet1
    • Humus. Also referred to as compost, this is a nutrient-rich substrate that provides nourishment to both the snail and live plants.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 2Bullet2
    • Peat. Snails like to live in peat, but it can also be a home to pests, so don't use it if you're worried about bugs living in the tank.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 2Bullet3
    • Potting soil. This is a cheap option that is ideal for snails to burrow in. Be sure to choose one that is labeled pesticide-free.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 2Bullet4
    • Coir. This is a cheap substrate that is a popular choice for snail tanks. It holds moisture well, but it is prone to harboring mites and insects.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 2Bullet5
  3. Image titled Care for Snails Step 3
    Add features to the tank. Snails like to crawl, explore and hide, so make them happy by including interesting objects for them to climb on. Avoid hard objects made from ceramic and heavy stone, since snails can slip on these and damage their shells. Choose some of the following options:
    • Wooden sticks and branches. Sticks made from durable wood are available for purchase at pet stores, since they're often used in aquariums for turtles, snakes and amphibians.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 3Bullet1
    • Cork bark. This is a soft substance with hollow areas that provide a great hiding place for snails.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 3Bullet2
    • Plants. Choose live plants that do well in the same climate snails thrive in. You could also choose plastic plants, which are easier to keep clean.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 3Bullet3
  4. Image titled Care for Snails Step 4
    Create the right climate. In addition to having a tank that's well ventilated, snails also need a warm, moist environment. They do best at temperatures between 21-23 °C (70-74 °F), but they are usually fine at temperatures that are slightly higher or lower. The substrate at the bottom of the tank must be kept moist at all times.
    • If you're concerned that your snail might get too cold in a certain room, consider buying a small heating pad. It should only cover about 2/3 of the floor of the tank, so the snail is able to move away if it gets too hot.
    • Keep the substrate moist by spritzing it (and the snail) with water every day. Use purified or distilled water to ensure the snail stays healthy.

Method 2
Providing Calcium and Food

  1. Image titled Care for Snails Step 5
    Give the snail calcium. Snails need plenty of calcium to keep their shells strong and healthy. You should provide a source of calcium in the tank at all times. Cuttlefish bones are available for purchase at pet stores, but you could also use egg shells. The snails will run their bodies over the calcium source and wear it away over time.
  2. Image titled Care for Snails Step 6
    Provide snail food. Snails eat a great variety of different foods, many of which you might have in your refrigerator or pantry to feed your family. Place some food in the snail's tank every day. You can use a small food dish to keep the food separate from the substrate. If you notice the food there a few days later, remove it, since letting food rot in the tank will cause mold to grow and attract insects. Keep these tips in mind when it comes to feeding your snail:
    • You can buy a snail food mix or turtle food to feed your snails. Fresh food contains more nutrients and is healthier, but it's good to have dry food on hand in case of an emergency.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 6Bullet1
    • Feed snails fruits and vegetables. Snails will eat most any type of produce. If they don't like something, they simply won't eat it, so experiment with different fruits and vegetables until you find a combination your snail likes. Try berries, squash, lettuce, cabbage, apples, pears, broccoli, beans, cucumbers, kale, and all kinds of other fruits and vegetables.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 6Bullet2
    • Feed snails small quantities of crushed seeds. Oats may also be fed to snails after soaking. You can also feed snails small quantities of milk powder, raw meat and crushed dog bones.
    • Avoid foods that are dangerous for snails to eat. Rice, millet, pasta, and other starchy foods can cause the snails to get bloated and die. Avoid foods that contain salt. Finally, don't feed snails food that has been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 6Bullet4
  3. Image titled Care for Snails Step 7
    Provide a water dish. This isn't mandatory, since snails get the moisture they need from the substrate, but snails like to drink water and bathe every now and then. Choose a very shallow water dish that will allow the snails to easily climb in and out. If you use one that's too deep, the snails may drown.

Method 3
Cleaning the Tank and Snails

  1. Image titled Care for Snails Step 8
    Change the substrate often. Once a week should be sufficient, but change it more often if it looks dirty before then. Change the substrate right away if it gets completely soaked or if it seems to be harboring mites.
  2. Image titled Care for Snails Step 9
    Clean the tank every few weeks. Wash the tank with hot water and a sterilizing solution, then rinse it carefully again to remove all traces of the chemicals. It's important to wash the tank fairly frequently so that mold doesn't grow in the tank and harm the snails.
    • While you're washing the tank, keep the snails safe in a plastic container with a lid; make sure it has plenty of holes in the top for ventilation.
    • Wash the decorations and food and water dishes as well. If certain decorations seem to have degraded over time, replace them.
  3. Image titled Care for Snails Step 10
    Bathe the snails. It's a good idea to bathe the snails every so often to prevent disease and pests from taking over. Set the snail in a shallow dish of room temperature water, then pour more water gently over the snail's body. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently clean the shell; don't scrub too hard or you may damage it, and don't use soap.[3]
    • Never use cleaning fluids to clean the snail or its shell. These are extremely harmful and could lead to the snail's death.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 10Bullet1
    • You can rub a bit of sesame oil over the shell to give it some shine.
      Image titled Care for Snails Step 10Bullet2


  • Never dump your tank if there are unusual black bubbles at the top because they are probably eggs.
  • Never leave your snails unattended for a long period of time, as they are not as slow as you think.
  • Remember to clean the tank, snail, and any decorations regularly.
  • When breeding them, keep snails in a private space, and usually the mother will come back and lay her eggs there.
  • Make sure you always wash your hands before you handle snails.
  • Take your snail for a 5–10 centimeter (2.0–3.9 in) walk outside. Beware of prying pets, you don't want your little snail getting gobbled by your cat or dog.
  • Try to keep different sized snails in separate compartments to avoid bigger snails clambering over smaller ones.


  • Baby snail's shells are very fragile, so try not to hold them or be very, very careful. Keep in mind that they may accidentally get killed by adult snails as well.
  • Without calcium, your snail will start eating its shell to get calcium.
  • Snails die under salty conditions.

Article Info

Categories: Snails and Slugs