Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Artful Life: Creating a Snail Habitat

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While gardening this weekend, I happened across a little snail nestled inside one of our new plants.  Honestly, I thought he was dead, so I threw him out with the plant container! However, we later got that container back out of the trash to use as a rock scoop, and guess who was creepy, crawling around? Yep, Mr. Snail (a.k.a. "Speedy").

The boys watched him for awhile, utterly transfixed.  What was the very next inevitable question?

"Can we keep him? PLEASE?"

O.K.- So for any other parent caught in a similar predicament, here's how you can easily say "Yes":

You will need:

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1. A plastic produce carton- the kind that berries come in.  These have ample holes for air circulation, yet your snail won't escape!

2. A disposable plastic drinking cup (any size). You will need to trim down the cup with scissors to create a shallow saucer (3).

4. Fresh leaves from a nearby tree/plant.

5. Stones of various sizes. Be sure to have one will fit into your water saucer- not too big/not too small.

6. Mulch, bark or twigs.

7. A small plastic plant container. Be sure it's the right size that you can close the lid of your berry container!

8. Scissors (for step 2), water, and a tray to place the habitat on (so that it catches any dirt/water that may spill out!)

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1. Start with your clean, empty berry container.  Place the water saucer, and begin to add in large pieces of bark/mulch.

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2. Place a large stone in the water saucer.  This will allow your snail to crawl in and out of the water.  Sometimes he just hangs on the side of the rock to take a sip from the water. Without the stone, you may end up with a drowned snail!

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3. Place the plant container on its side. Put some stones or mulch in the bottom to weigh it down.  Snails love cool, shady places, so this will be a nice little shelter for him (or her!)  Fill the container with a nice amount of stones, bark, and leaves.

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4. Fill the saucer with water, and sprinkle water over everything in the habitat.  You will need to freshen the water every couple of days and add some fresh leaves. Make sure your lid will close, and you are ready to put your snail in his new home!  Place the habitat on the tray and find a nice cool, shady spot to keep it.

Have fun watching the snail crawl all around! They are really quite fascinating!

 Snail Collage

A few interesting snail facts:

Snails eat bark, fresh leaves, bits of fruit, decaying matter, and the chalk from limestone rock (this is good for their shells!)

Snails like a moist, shady environment.  They do not like hot and dry conditions, and they don't care for the sun.

Snails sleep during the day and are most active at night.

Snails belong to the mollusk animal family.  They are related to oysters, clams and other shellfish.

Snails are "gastropods," which is Latin for stomach ("gastro") and foot ("pod").

Here's some great snail links:

Questions and Answers about Snails

BBC Nature Wildlife Snail Facts

Diagram of a Snail

Snail Videos


  1. I love this Erin, So creative! We have a bunch of snails here on the land I just love to watch them move, dragging there shell around.

  2. This is mentally filed under "just in case" w/ my 3 boys. :)

  3. What a fun fun project... This is something my daughter would have loved when she was a child... (well OK) she would still love it..
    I think I will surprise her! She always had turtles, lizzards. puppies and many many other "friends>" The stories I could share..
    Take care,

  4. Just remember snails are hermaphroditic so if you keep your snail inside make sure to remove any eggs you find or you'll have an army of snails before you know it.

  5. Good point, Voodoomaggie! We only have one snail, but I did read they could mate with themselves even! I'm not sure how long we'll keep the little guy, but he's out once we spot any eggs! For right now, we are still enjoying watching him (and hoave found he has a fondness for blueberries!)

  6. Wow! Nice idea BUT: the container is much too small and they really do need friends. : ) Hike up the size (at least double) by getting an inexpensive plastic terrarium with an airy lid and keep them moist (every day I spritzer around with a water bottle). Also they may fall from the lid onto the rocks and damage their shells so I am not really a fan of having rocks in there. My kids and I have a snail we found in a salad and another kind of snail we found in the garden with a broken shell (now repaired). They are happy together and won't mate. We love them dearly!!

  7. Well now I know what to do when we find one!!! Thanks I think lol! XOXO

  8. Thanks! Bringing in my 2 snails for my first graders to observe and LOVE!

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  10. This is actually a dangerous environment to put a snail in. They often hang on the lid of your tank or box or what ever you use. They can fall down. If they fall on the stones in there, the shell can break or damage. They also need soil, most people use coco fiber soil. There is no soil in your tank at all. The soil also keeps the environment moist. Also snails have lungs and they can drown in the water dish. They don't need that. They drink by licking up the drops that you put in by spraying.

    Not so much a nice project...

  11. I found a wild snail and couldnt tell if it was alive or not so I very gently took the tip of a empty lead pencil and cleaned it real good and slightly touched it . Happy to report he is alive and lives in a blueberry carton with soil and a Apple slice, tomorrow I am going to go get a bigger home for him!

  12. Hello I would suggest using substrate, and removing the rocks. In case the snail climbed to the top, it could fall and crack his shell. Also, the container is really small, and using a bigger one could make him happier! Snails also like having friends as they can get lonely. You can remove the water dish as they can easily drown. Remember to mist their habitat with dechlorinated water so they can drink the small water droplets and also not dry out.


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