The Giant African Snail (Lissachatina fulica) is easily the biggest terrarium snail we’ve covered so far in terms of care and maintenance.
With that being said, if you’ve found yourself in the rare position of owning one of these (since they are actually illegal to have) you will need to know everything you can to properly care for it.
This ultimate guide will do more than provide basic care needs for the gigantic gastropod. We will also discuss how to identify it and provide effective control methods.
Furthermore, breeding, as well as dietary needs, will be covered. Get ready to learn all about the Giant African Snail!
|Giant African Snail
|Cleaning, Aerating Soil, Pets
|5 to 9 Years
|Minimum Tank Size
What Are Giant African Snails?
Lissachatina fulica belongs to the family Achatinidae, commonly known as Giant Snails or Giant African Land Snail.
These snails are medium-to-large-sized species found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East.
They are considered to be an agricultural, ecological, and human health hazard, notably due to their propensity to transmit disease-causing parasites.
What Do Giant African Snails Look Like?
Giant African Snails have a large, rounded shell that can grow up to 8 inches and is sometimes mottled with a yellowish tinge.
The shell is slightly pointed at the end, with a slightly flattened spire. The edges of the shell are wide and the surface is slightly glossy.
The inside of the shell is usually a vibrant golden yellow.
Lissachatina fulica also has a head with two feelers and a body that is usually brown or pale grey in color.
The outside of the snail’s body is smooth and covered with mucous.
The eyes and tentacles are located at the front of the head and there are two small, flea-like structures on the back of the head which are the snail’s ears.
The Giant African Snail also has a large muscular foot which it uses to move around.
Benefits Of Using Giant African Snails
Giant African Snails can thrive in vivariums because of their low maintenance and long life.
Not only do they provide interesting and live visuals and audio, but they also help to aerate and clean soils and tanks with their burrowing activity.
They are also invaluable for controlling algae, which are common in tanks.
These snails are also excellent sources of food for some reptiles, amphibians, and other creatures, so they can be beneficial as live food as well.
In addition to these practical benefits, the presence of Giant African Snails also makes a terrarium more visually stimulating, especially when they’re observed grazing on rocks or climbing up the vivarium walls.
Finally, L. fulica helps keep the tank clean, as the waste generated by their activity helps to balance the ecosystem by providing energy for nitrifying bacteria.
Giant African Snail Facts
Giant African Snails are large land snails that can reach several inches in length.
They are omnivores whose natural diet includes fruits, vegetables, insects, earthworms, and carrion.
As solitary animals, they tend to be calm and easy to handle.
The average lifespan of a Lissachatina fulica can span over many years; however, they can breed quickly, laying an average of 200 eggs per year.
Giant African Snails live in areas with warm climates and lots of vegetation, preferably in damp environments such as valleys, rainforests, and habitats near waterways.
They are also found in areas with human habitation, such as waste areas, agricultural fields, and yards.
Lissachatina fulica prefers to stay in dark, damp areas during the day, and venture out in the evenings and even on rainy days.
During the day, they rest in shallow burrows, under leaves, or under logs.
Lissachatina fulica is a herbivorous species, meaning that its diet consists of mostly plant materials.
In their natural habitat, Giant African Snails have been observed feeding on a range of vegetation, such as leaves, bark, roots, and fruits.
They also feed on vegetables and other human-provided sources of food, such as pet food and sausage casings.
Additionally, it has been observed that these snails have a particular affinity for calcium-rich plants, as they use it to supplement their calcium needs for shell growth and development.
The habitat where the Giant Snail lives is generally warm and moist climate, which provides plenty of vegetation for the snails to feed on.
In addition to vegetation, Giant African Snails are opportunistic feeders and scavengers, meaning that they will also consume animal feces, dead insects, and other organic materials that they come across in their natural environment.
Giant African Snails generally don’t present any danger to humans or other animals. They are not aggressive and typically avoid people and other animals.
However, they may move towards people in search of water, as they need moisture to survive. They don’t bite and are fairly peaceful animals.
In the wild, these snails interact mainly with other snails of the same species.
They usually don’t bother other animals, although they may occasionally eat the eggs of other animals, like birds.
The lifespan of Giant African Snails can vary greatly depending on environmental conditions.
In ideal conditions with plenty of food, humidity, and warmth, an adult snail can sometimes live for more than 8 years.
However, in less ideal conditions, the expected lifespan is much shorter, ranging from 5-6 years for adults.
The life cycle of Giant African Snails begins with a single egg. After hatching, the snails go through several stages known as juveniles.
During the juvenile phase, the snail grows in size and develops the ability to reproduce.
The full development to adulthood can take several months, depending on the weather and availability of food.
Once they reach adulthood and reproduce, the Lissachatina fulica lay several dozen eggs at a time.
The eggs are usually laid in the soil and take a few weeks to hatch. The developing snails will then go through the same life cycle and eventually reach adulthood.
During the mating process, a male will reach out with its long foot and gently touch a female’s shell.
If the female is receptive, the two will entwine their long, muscular feet and exchange sperm.
Females can produce up to 100 eggs at one time, with each egg measuring around 5 millimeters in diameter.
The female will camouflage the egg with a jellylike substance which helps protect the eggs from the elements and predators.
The eggs will incubate for around a month before hatching.
Where To Find Giant African Snails
The Giant African Snail is actually quite easy to find in the wild.
This snail is highly adaptable, and it can be found in habitats as diverse as woodlands, urban areas, and backyards.
It prefers damp and humid environments and tends to be active at night.
When hunting for them, look beneath rocks, logs, and other hiding places.
Another way to find Giant African Snails is to purchase them. In some places (where it’s legal to trade), Giant African Snails are actually sold as pets or as food.
If you are thinking of buying Giant African Snails, consider their needs and whether you can provide them with a safe and suitable environment.
Giant African Snail Care
The enclosure should be cleaned regularly, misted with water to maintain humidity, and monitored for signs of stress or ill health.
Protection from other animals should also be provided, and they should be handled carefully when necessary.
Giant African snails require specific tank requirements to stay healthy.
The ideal temperature for Lissachatina fulica ranges from 70 to 78 F with a pH of 7.0-7.3 and hardness of 4.
The tank should also include caves and decorations to create a hiding spot, and filtered water should be maintained at all times.
Finally, terrarium lighting is necessary at 10 hours per day and should include a low-wattage water-proof light emitting diode (LED).
What Do Giant African Snails Eat?
First of all, Giant African Snails are omnivores and require a balanced diet in order to stay healthy. Here is a list of things you can feed Lissachatina fulica:
- Fruits and vegetables: Anything from apples, lettuce, and carrots to kiwi, pumpkin, and tomatoes
- Grains: Including cooked oats, wheat kernels, and rice
- Flowers: Hibiscus and other floral leaves
- Seeds: Including sunflower and millet
- Cooked meats: Cooked chicken and ham
- Insects: Including mealworms, earthworms, and wax worms
Feed your snails twice a week and offer fresh fruits and vegetables. If the food is not eaten within three days, remove it.
If you’re more of an avid hobbyist like myself, be sure to check out my ultimate DIY land snail food guide. I give a more in-depth explanation of the best foods and my favorite recipe.
Best Tankmates For Giant African Snails
Tankmates that you can keep with your Giant African Snail are just as important as what you feed them.
Generally speaking, Lissachatina fulica does not require any tankmates and should actually be kept in isolation.
If you are considering a paludarium setup then many aquatic animals could be considered good tankmates.
Snails of other varieties, such as Mystery Snails or Apple Snails, can be kept with Giant African Snails if you are careful to monitor the pH and calcium levels in the tank.
Additionally, they can be kept with Algae-Eating Shrimp, Nerite Snails, Amano Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, and other small bottom feeders.
All these animals can help keep your tank clean and looking great while providing companionship to your Giant African Snail.
In conclusion, Lissachatina fulica can have a significant impact on different ecosystems, and understanding how to identify and control them is important for keeping them in balance.
Having Giant African Snails in a terrarium will provide a great opportunity to learn their habits in a controlled ecosystem.
Frequently Asked Questions
Giant African snails are illegal in many countries due to their potential to cause harm to local ecosystems and agriculture.
They are considered an invasive species that can reproduce rapidly, eat a variety of plant materials, carry diseases, and damage buildings and infrastructure.
While it is technically possible to touch giant African land snails, it is not recommended to handle them as they can carry diseases that are harmful to humans, such as rat lungworm.
It is not recommended to keep giant African snails as pets because they can carry parasites that can be harmful to humans. They are also illegal to keep as pets in many U.S. states.
If you find a giant African snail, it is important to contact your local extension office or wildlife agency for assistance.