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Rocky - Acorn's class pet

  Rocky  

The Giant African snail is large species of land snail that belongs to the family Achatinidae. It originates from East Africa, but it can be found all over the world today (it is especially numerous on the islands in the Pacific and Indian ocean). The Giant African snail resides in humid forests, wetlands, coastal areas, agricultural fields and urban areas. It is often collected from the wild and consumed as delicacy in Africa. Despite that, the giant Africa snail is widespread and numerous in the wild.

 

Interesting Giant African snail Facts:

  • Giant African snails can reach 3 to 8 inches in length and around 1.13 ounces of weight.
  • A Giant African snail has large, conical shell that can be 4 to 7 inches long, and made of 7 to 9 spirals. Shells can be brown with dark-colored stripes, or reddish to yellowish-colored with vertical markings.
  • A Giant African snail has two pairs of tentacles on its head. Eyes are located on the top of the first pair, while second pair bears sense of smell. The Giant African snail has large, muscular foot and well-developed tongue (called radula) covered with tiny spikes.
  • A Giant African snail moves very slowly and produces slimy mucus to facilitate movement across the substrate.
  • A Giant African snail is active during the night (nocturnal). It sleeps during the day hidden in the soil.
  • A Giant African snail is vegetarian. It eats different types of leaves, fruit, vegetables and flowers.
  • A Giant African snail consumes 500 different types of plants. 
  • Natural enemies of the Giant African snails are ground beetles, caterpillars, wild boars, rats and various birds.
  • A Giant African snail hides inside the shell during extremely hot and cold periods of year. It can drastically reduce its metabolism and survive few months or few years without food.
  • A Giant African snail is solitary creature. It meets with other giant African snails only to mate.
  • They possesses both types of reproductive organs, but is requires a partner for the successful mating (self-fertilization happens in extreme cases).
  • It lays eggs among rocks, leaves and dirt on the ground. Eggs hatch after 11 to 15 days. Young giant African snails reach adulthood 6 months after hatching.
  • A Giant African snail can produce 6 clutches of eggs per year, each made of around 200 eggs. 90% of newly hatched giant African snails survive till adulthood.
  • It has an average lifespan of 5 to 7 years. It can survive up to 10 years in the wild under favorable conditions.

How does Rocky move?

Still image for this video
Rocky enjoyed his warm bath from Mr Whitton. Mr Whitton then placed him carefully on his hand. Watch carefully and see how Rocky moves.

They are nocturnal which means that they are usually inactive during the day. Owners must provide the correct accommodation, heating, humidity, lighting and food to ensure that the snail remains healthy. Without the proper care they can suffer with skin, shell and digestive issues.

 

Housing

Giant African Land Snails need a well-ventilated glass or sturdy plastic tank with a secure lid to stop them climbing out. The tank should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from radiators and draughts. Indirect sunlight in the room will avoid the need for the tank to have specialist lighting.

 

The tank must be big enough – ideally 60cms long, 45 cms wide and 40cms high – and a 5cm layer of peat substitute should be placed on the floor. This must be kept damp.

 

Giant African Land Snails need to be kept at a temperature of 24 – 30 degrees centigrade to maintain normal growth – this can be achieved with a heat pad placed under the tank and a vivarium heat bulb may also be necessary. Owners need to monitor the temperature and humidity regularly as if a snail becomes too hot, cold or dry they will become inactive and even dormant.

 

A very shallow water bowl should be placed in the tank – snails can drown in just a few millimetres of water. Not only does this provide drinking water but also helps to keep the environment humid. The inside of the tank should also be misted with warm water every other day.

 

The walls of the tank should be wiped regularly and the tank given a thorough clean in plain water once a week. Avoid using any chemicals as snails can absorb these through their skin. The peat substitute layer should also be changed every week.

 

When cleaning the tank or handling the snails, bear in mind that these animals can carry diseases that are harmful to humans, such as Salmonella. Good hand hygiene is important when looking after these animals.

 

Diet

Giant African Land Snails will eat many leafy greens – lettuce, spinach, cress and watercress, dandelions and grass but make sure that they are free from chemicals (pesticides, fertilisers etc). They will also eat cucumber, courgettes, apples, melon, grapes and bananas. Cabbage can be fed, but this often causes unpleasanr odours. Food should be washed and chopped. It is best to have a shallow feeding bowl to prevent the floor of the tank getting messy. Any food left after 24 hours should be removed from the tank.

 

It is important that Giant African Land Snails consume calcium to maintain their shell. This can be provided by a cuttlefish bone, natural chalk, crushed eggshells or a calcium supplement which is sprinkled onto their food.

 

Health

 

A Giant African Land Snail is not an easy pet. They have complex needs mainly revolving around their environment and diet.

 

Giant African Land Snails are very susceptible to dehydration from overheating or direct sunlight.

Because they absorb chemicals through their skin avoid using any chemicals including fly spray and room freshener anywhere near them as it can prove fatal.

 

A healthy snail will have a clean, unbroken shell with no lumps, bumps or small white patches on its skin.

 

It is better to obtain snails from a captive-bred source and avoid wild-caught individuals. Wild snails can carry parasites which may affect humans.

Rocky has babies!!

Miss O'Brien went to clean Rocky out this morning and found 59 little baby snails!  Miss O'Brien was very shocked, Mrs Parkin was super excited and one little boy thought Rocky had shrunk!  The children in the whole school loved handling all Rocky's little babies.  Mrs Whitton took Rocky home for the weekend and gave the babies their own heated tank so they can grow up in peace from Rocky (who keeps pinching their food).

 

If anyone would like to purchase one of Rocky's babies Acorn will be selling them for 50p each.  However please make sure you are responsible pet owners and follow the Giant African Snail care sheet below before committing to a new pet for a long time.

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