The Rules of Snail Keeping

Yesterday, I introduced you to Stevie, my golden mystery snail. Thanks to the magic of Google, I’ve learned quite a bit about snail-keeping, and I feel compelled to share the choicest tidbits with you.

Stevie promenading on her underwater beach.

A “golden mystery snail” is the name given by aquarium stores to a range of apple snails that are a yellow to orange gold colour but cannot be otherwise positively classified. Essentially “golden mystery snail” means, “Well, we’re not exactly sure what the hell kind of snail this is, but it’s definitely yellowish.” Stevie is like a Bond girl, beautiful, shapely, and utterly untraceable. She is also a master of stealth. Excellent. If she kills me in my sleep, look for the water marks on my pillow.

Many apple snails grow to be up to 6 inches across. Stevie lives in a small tank, so if she reaches her growth potential, the housing situation will be akin to storing a great dane in a garden shed. I hope she lives a long and healthy little snail life, but does not take after the beefy side of her family.

There are a number of fatal medical conditions for snails. These are terrible fates, like a mantle detachment –where the boogery insides of the snail come detached from the shell– that cannot be reversed or repaired. Snail keeping enthusiasts suggest the deep freeze as a method of euthanasia. Others suggest a quicker yet rather medieval death for our shelled houseguests beneath a well-aimed brick or large mallet. One website suggested wearing goggles and having paper towels ready. I hope that, one day, when Stevie’s time here on earth is over, she dies quietly in her (whatever snails do that’s like) sleep, because I highly doubt I could crush her to put her out of her misery. It’s my soft and gooey heart –and her soft and gooey insides, too. I could not do it.

Finally, the single best advice I found about snail keeping had to do with determining the gender of my snail. Note that I gave Stevie an moniker that could apply to either a male or female. She was very nearly called Shelley, but on the off-chance she is a male, I didn’t want to screw with her little snail brain. Anyhoo, apparently snails are the only species on the planet where the male doesn’t feel the need to flaunt his equipment or brag to his friends about the dimensions of his junk. It’s difficult to tell whether you’re dealing with indoor or outdoor plumbing on your underwater friend because they close the little door on their shells whenever you lift them out of the water or play Celine Dion music. One website suggested purchasing numerous snails, then waiting for the reproductive party to begin. Apparently, the most fool-proof way to determine snail gender is to watch them fool around.

The website assured me if my snails were getting it on, the snail on top was the male.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. FL Liz says:

    Stevie is very lovely indeed. I am not very snail savvy – will her (his) shell grow with him(her)? What is the life expectancy of your little friend? Now I have to go look them up.

    As for the name Shelley – that could be used for a boy: Shelley Berman is a male comedian. Back in the 60’s we used to listen to my dad’s Shelly Berman records. Shelley could be short for Sheldon?

    1. Stevie will continue to add to her shell as she grows as long as I keep her water hard enough, which in Edmonton should not be a problem.

      I suppose I should have called him Shelly! Thanks for sharing that. I think I also picked Stevie to stay away from the almost required pun involving her shell.

  2. FL Liz says:

    Stevie is funnier anyway. We have very hard water here too: changing out toilet workings is an annual event because of all the mineral build up. Ack.

    1. Changing the toilet bits? That must be intensely hard water. Ours isn’t that bad, but soaps and detergents definitely don’t foam up much around here.

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