My first encounter with snails must have been when I was but little, maybe 6 or so. I was in the countryside and snails came out in scores after the refreshing summer rain. I quickly became fascinated with their beautiful shells, their considered pace, and the sensation of their cold, moist flesh across the skin of my palms.
That summer and over many summers after it, I ended up doing everything that children like to do with snails: I went on fevered searches for these creatures after a rainy spot, I kept half a dozen of them in a large shoebox into whose lid my father had punched holes so they could breathe, I gave them lettuce and cabbage leaves, and I made them run in snail races (which were never won by anybody because the snails would always stray away from our improvised racecourse and into the more inviting garden).
My childhood is dotted with snail-related landmarks, and my first ever pets were snails since, growing up on the top floor of a tall block of flats in a busy city meant that my options when it came to pets were limited. (Add to this my mother’s fear of almost all kinds of animals, especially the furry ones, and you’ll understand why snails were an obvious go-to for me.)
Many years passed and, in my mid 20s, I found myself pining for a pet. But it was tricky: I was still a student, I had little money to spare, no place of my own, and I travelled between different countries often. Under these circumstances most animals, once more, were not an option for me. Until the idea struck — why don’t I get… a snail? You can find them pretty much everywhere, and they don’t require any sizeable investment of time and money, I told myself.
One day (once more in summer), as I was going through a rough patch emotionally and professionally, I happened to find a small grove snail on my university campus. This in itself was quite surprising, as I had never seen snails on the campus grounds (I expect they do a good job of poisoning “pests”).
So I decided to pick it up and adopt it. I called it “Biscuit”.
As it turns out, I did well to take it in — Biscuit appeared to have lost part of one of its upper tentacles, and since snails use their four tentacles to navigate their environment, Biscuit was now somewhat disoriented.
This was my the beginning of a very serious love affair with land snails, and they are still a huge part of my life, as I expect them to continue to be. So I’ve finally decided to start writing about these amazing little creatures that don’t tend to get much love. They are beautiful and fascinating, and they can make the best of pets.
In fact, I highly recommend land snails as pets, since they are quite hardy creatures, they can be easily found wherever you live, they don’t require much of an upkeep, and they’re not smelly or noisy. Below, I outline some snail facts that you may have not known about, and explain who may find them a good option as pets, and how best to look after them.