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Giant African Land Snail isn't quite so giant!

Discussion in 'Insects , Snails and other exotic pets' started by Estrasoft, Mar 29, 2020.


  1. Estrasoft

    Estrasoft PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all!
    Synopsis: I have a Giant African Land Snail (Achatina Achatina / Tiger Snail) which has barely grown at all since we bought it back in August 2019, which her fellow sibling who was the same size as well as other snails that we own have grown considerably. I've done some prior research and found which seems to have a smiliar issue but wondering if anyone can help me wrt food/heating/lighting or anything else I might be doing wrong. I've tried to be as comprehensive as possible but do let me know if you need more info.

    First, here's a photo of the snail in question (her name is Snaily Rae Jepson) on the day that we bought her. She's on the top left of the photo and her sibling, also an Achatina Achatina, is on the bottom right. It's hard to tell, but they were roughly the same size (this photo was taken around 25th Aug 2019)

    [​IMG]

    At the same time as getting the two Achatina Achatinas, we also got two Achatina Reticulatas. All four were put in a nice viv with all proper heating and substrate etc. Here's a photo of the viv as it sits currently, with the other AA and the two ARs in:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the other three snails are doing just fine.

    The tank has been through some iterations over time, but currently it has a full size heat mat on the side (as you can see) and underneath the tank on that same side, rigged to a Komodo thermostat set to 30c.

    It takes up roughly 1/3-1/5 of the tank and laser spot readings on top of the substrate are 20c on the cool end and 23.6c on the hot end, with the glass that has the heat mat against it (and ther thermostat sensor on the other side) reading 30c currently.

    They have loose coconut bark substrate as well as a multiple water bowls, hides, etc.

    They are fed on a diet of mostly organic cucumber (pre-washed) and round and little gem lettuce (also washed). Have also tried them on grapes, apples, banana and brussles sprouts which they don't seem to care for

    They also have regular access to both large pieces or broken cuttlefish bone AND powedered calcium supplements

    They also have regular access to pet-approved spagnhum moss, which they delight in hiding inside.

    Anyway - that's the "good" hide. Here you can see a photo of our small snail on the left along with her sibling - the same one from the first photo - taken today, about 7 months later:

    [​IMG]

    About a month ago we made the decision to separate the small snail from the rest for fear that she might get "nibbled" by her siblings sensing the free calcium, and also in case she was feeling threatened trying to access food.

    Generally when we found her in the big tank she was either hiding in a hide or more likely, buried under the substrate. She had often "closed up" and sealed herself over with that mucous plug that they do when they're unhappy. We moved her to a smaller enclosure on her own, but with the same basic supplies and setup:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That's her in her new small viv. It has all the same stuff - same substrate, same moss, same heating setup except that the thermostat is Habistat branded. I'm currently away in the US on holiday but my partner who also looks after the snails with me has measured and sent me these stats pertaining to the new smaller tank:

    Thermostat temp set to 33c (91F), was originally on 30 but spot temps always read too low
    Thermostat is Habistat branded and the sensor is on the inside of the tank, underneath substrate against heat mat
    Laser thermometer spot temp 23C on warm end and 18.6c on cold end
    (but had just misted so maybe be a little lower than usual)
    Regular tank thermometer currently reading 18.7c

    She will barely, if ever eat anything - the only thing being cucumber and even then she will only nibble the dark green edges rather than chomping on the juicy middle bit like all of the other snails do. Even if we put her on top of a piece of cucumeber, lettuce or cuttlefish bone she will slowly crawl away sometime later without putting a nibble in it.

    Here are two more photos of her to show both a closeup of her markings as well as her size:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And finally, a shot of her tank with the lid on showing the insulation:
    [​IMG]

    I don't *believe* that the issue is her food or living circumstances because they have been identical as with three other snails (one other AA and two ARs), however if you can see something that might be a problem, do let me know!
    Is it possible that the seller fobbed me off with a real AA and some other species or simply a garden snail, either accidentally or maliciously?

    Also, I didn't want to flood the post with massive pictures but I do have larger versions for those who are interested - you can find an album of them .

    So! Thoughts? Have I been duped? Am I doing something wrong? We have a variety of different foods on the way to try all of the snails with (varying leafy greens, fruits and veggies) but I wanted to put this out here and see if anyone has any ideas.

    Thank you for your time!
     
  2. Estrasoft

    Estrasoft PetForums Newbie

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    Edit: There are a few thigs that I tried to include in my post but were rejected for being "possible spam", so I had to delete the from my post.
    The first was saying "I've done some prior research and found which seems to have a smiliar issue" which is meant to read "I've done some prior research and found this thread which seems to have a smiliar issue"

    The "This thread" in question is a thread on this very forum (petforums), threads <slash> my-giant-african-land-snail-isnt-very-giant.487918/

    The next line is "hey have ZooMed EcoEarth loose coconut bark substrate (This stuff) as well as a multiple water bowls, hides, etc." which - hopefull this lets me post this, but the This Stuff was a link to the ZooMed product on Amazon

    The paragraph near the bottom ending "accidentally or maliciously) was followed with this:
    I bought them from Snails4You, although as you can see from that link, they don't currently have any in stock (the AAs came from Snails4You, the two ARs came from another source)

    Not sure if the link was banned or just the word S4U. You can find the website at snails4you dot com , although they don't have any AAs in at the moment, just other brands. Has anyone else hre had any experince, good or bad, with S4U?


    And finally, I was trying to link to an album or larger photos of the pics you can see here. You can find it at
    ibb.co <slash> album <slash> gnbVOv

    I hope these things aren't in violation of the rules. Just trying to be as helpful as possible.
     
    #2 Estrasoft, Mar 29, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2020
  3. Leanne77

    Leanne77 PetForums VIP

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    I'd say your small snail is a runt and therefore no amount of care will make it grow to the same size as your other tiger snail. If conditions are the same and one has grown, the other hasnt, then it will be a safe assumption.

    A couple of things I picked up on...cucumber and little gem lettuce is not a sufficient diet as there is little nutritional value there. Trouble is that if a snail is fed mainly cucumber you will have a hard time weaning it onto other foods. Try sweet potato, courgette, babycorn, butternut squash etc. I find my snails much prefer thinly sliced food to chunks so vary how you serve the different foods.

    Secondly, retics should not be kept with tigers as they require different care with regards to both temps and humidty. Retics like around 25-27 degrees and 80% humidity. Tigers prefer 28-30 degrees and 90% humidity. To give them their ideal living conditions, you'd need to separate. There is also the issue of crossbreeding. Tigers can be kept with ovums or suturalis, nothing else.

    Unless you cover the top of that Exo Terra you will struggle with heat and humidity. I'd also only use one heat mat, decide whether you want it on the side or underneath but by using 2 you are covering more than a third of the sides, leaving less room for the snails to move away from the heat.

    You mention cuttlefish and calcium supplements...how are you using the supplement powder? Snails should have the choice of whether to consume calcium or not so calcium powder should never be sprinkled on food or substrate.

    You also dont mention protein. Do you feed them a regular protein source such as specially made snail mix, fish flakes, raw mince or pinkies?

    Just another observation looking at your photos...the substrate doesnt look deep enough, it certainly wont be when they grow to adult size. Substrate should be as deep as the snail is large, plus a couple of inches so they can fully bury.
     
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  4. Estrasoft

    Estrasoft PetForums Newbie

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    Ah, I see - just a random change/genetics thing? That's a shame, ah well! She's still a lovely gal (hah)

    Yeah, I had been thinking that - we actually have an order placed with the grocery shop for delivery with a wide range of foods (from lists I've found on the net of things they can eat - mostly leafy greens, fruit and veg) to test all the snails with and see which they prefer, then log the info to get them the noms that they like the most :).

    I was aware that the temperature ranges for retics and tigers was a bit different but was unsure how to manage that in one tank (also due to the mesh on the top which I'll reply to in a bit), that's good advice though and I'll look into getting a second tank for the retics (they do seem happier than the other tiger for sure).

    I was actually hoping that they would crossbreed together to maybe try to start a new strain of snail, as is done in snake communities to develop new morphs but was unsure whether that would work or not, would that be a bad thing? I haven't seen anything about it really other than that most people don't seem to think that they will breed with each other.

    Yeah, keeping the heat and especially humidity has been basically impossible, but that applies to both the larger viv that we have them in and the smaller "tub" tank, as you can see the thermostats are set pretty high but the spot readings are always low. What tank or viv would you recommend for Tigers, and for Retics?

    The reason for using two mats is that even with two large-ish (I think 15w offhand?) mats across one end and under the bottom, the temps are still low because of the mesh grid on the top. I've tried covering it with insulative material (as well as "backing" the end mat with the same material) but heat still escapes. They do have a good thermal gradiant I think since the heating is all on one end but it's all still a bit low

    Usually I take a single large piece of cuttlefish bone and break it into 3-4 pieces and place them around the tank on both the hot and cold side, and sprinkle the calcium powder in 2-3 different places - not on the food but I do worry about them walking over it and absorbing it unintentionally - could that be a problem?

    Nope, I didn't know that they needed protein! By pinkies, do you mean pinkie mice? I have looked into the snail mix thing that I saw on another site while researching foods so will give that a shot

    Yeah, in the big tank it's currently maybe a couple of inches, because of the way that the tank is designed (front doors that open outwards) it can't be any deeper than that without the substrate spilling out. I did know that they need to be able to fully bury though - hoping I can get some good viv advice to hopefully give them a better home for both temps and substrate depth

    ----

    Thank you for your advice and insights!
     
  5. Leanne77

    Leanne77 PetForums VIP

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    With regards to the crossbreeding I think you'll find you'll be met with much resistance and criticism from the snail keeping community. It's highly frowned upon to keep different breeds together. With retics being from the Lissachatina subgroup and tigers being from the Achatina subgroup, if you produced a hybrid, how would you know optimum conditions? Would you keep them as a retic or a tiger? So my advice would be not to do it. There are already enough species in captivity, and morphs, to cater for every taste and experience level.

    Regarding runts, snails produce several hundred eggs at a time because most wont be healthy specimens and most will die early on as well as being preyed upon. From a clutch of 400 for example, only single figures would be non runts. Runts are also likely if offspring mate and produce eggs so only eggs from non related snails should be reared.

    Snails are capable of absorbption through their foot so if you see your snails simply sat on the cuttlefish without rasping on it then thats what they're doing. So yes, calcium powder sprinkled on the substrate will be absorbed. Too much intake can lead to shell deformities.

    Most snail keepers house snails in plastic tubs. I know they're not as pleasing to look at as a viv, and they're opaque so viewing the snails is difficult but plastic holds temp and humidity better than glass.
    I have both species you have, as well as many others, and keep all in plastic tubs. I'd say for 2 adult retics a 45 litre would suffice. Going too big means you lose heat. I had my 7 retics in a 130 litre but they were not happy so I moved them back to a 100 litre and now they're active and eating again. I'd go less space for your tigers tbh. They grow much slower than retics anyway so maybe a 27 litre or 30 something. A tub will also allow for deeper substrate than a viv.

    Protein is a vital part of a snails diet. In the wild they would get it from dead animals and even faeces of other animals too. A pinkie (yep, dead baby rodent) would only need to be fed once a month as it's high protein. Same goes for tropical fish flakes, dried mealworms and raw mince.
    Goldfish flakes and snail mix would be required weekly.
     
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  6. Estrasoft

    Estrasoft PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for the feedback, I'll work on getting them separated. Also good to know wrt the calcium powder, would it be best to always put it in a certain spot in a corner or something so they can choose to go ther?

    As for tanks, as well as the big viv that three are currently in, we have the tiny one and also a new Tiger in these two tanks:

    (uploaded screenshots since the site won't let me link to amazon)

    Would something like that, but bigger (45L / 30L as you say) be appropriate? Or is there a brand that you can recommend for good vivs?
    I've gone ahead and ordered some snail mix ingredients, will take a while due to covid shipping panic sadly
    What should I do with the pinkies, thaw and leave them in there whole, or do they need to be minced? I also have a pet snake to used to dealing with mice/rats :)
     

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  7. Leanne77

    Leanne77 PetForums VIP

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    You'll need to cover most of those holes in the lid of the faunarium as you still wont achieve temp or humidity . Most of us just use Really Useful Boxes or Ikea storage tubs and make holes ourselves.

    Where to put the cuttlefish depends on how big the pieces are, how many snails you have and how big the area is really. Small pieces of cuttle will probably need several dotted about but a single large piece will probably just need one.

    With the pinkies, let them get to room temp then feed whole, the snails will just rasp on them. I've found mine dont really like genuine meat, and arent that fussed on snail mix. Fish flakes are a firm favourite so I just stick to those mainly.

    These are my retics in a 100 litre storage tub.
     

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  8. Estrasoft

    Estrasoft PetForums Newbie

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    That's all really helpful, thank you! I was chatting to my partner and showing them the thread over messenger and they actually suggested Really Useful Boxes - good to know! Thank you again :)
     
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