With all the talk about housing strange and exotic pets (that all turn out to be more of a pest than a pet), it takes some courage to be this type of owner. Pets have their challenges – and the previous mentioned – reptiles, amphibians and arachnids all have their downfalls when it comes to inviting them into your home.
The latest topic in this saga, is slimy snails. I remember as a child they fascinated me; I gingerly picked them from the walls and placed them in a 5L empty ice cream container. This is after I saw the Dulux paint advert on TV where the snails would wait until darkness falls to perform their own theatrical experience, elegantly dancing (or should I say, sliding) along the wall to the rhythm of a poetic ballad. Was I disappointed when I realised that watching these snails are no more interesting than watching paint dry! The only thing from this commercial that transitioned into reality was that snails are nocturnal, preferring to make their appearance during night time.
Having snails as pets, one has to specially build a terrarium for them, ensuring a damp environment is provided at all times, as well as feed them fresh veggies and regularly clean their enclosure. To me, this sounds more like another chore than actually enjoying the company of a fluffy companion.
The slick, the slow and the sickening
Snails are peculiar creatures. Wherever they go, they leave with them a slimy trail of their evidence and not only destroy large crops but also your garden. They have appetite for leaves, vegetables (as mentioned above), corn, grain, clovers and especially favour strawberries and tomatoes – not good news for the avid vegetable patch enthusiast. It turns out that snails not only enjoy eating cabbage, but also use it as a shelter. They might destroy your garden slowly, but they sure are sneaky!
Some prefer acquiring Giant African Land Snails as pets – some of which can reach a staggering 20 cm in height and 10 cm in width! This is not the only frightening factor about these gigantic snails; they also pose the risk of spreading the very serious illness, meningitis. In fact, these humongous molluscs have been banned in the US for this very reason. It is also worth mentioning that these snails pose the aforesaid health risk when ingesting infected rat stool. When bred indoors and kept in terrariums they are not as much of a health hazard as opposed to bringing them in from the outside. Other than this, snails also pose the risk of spreading salmonella to their owners.
If you have a snail as a pet take great care when handling them and make sure to wash your hands after coming into contact with them.
Tips on how to get rid of snails in your garden:
- Remove debris in your garden: During the day time snails hide beneath logs, decaying boards, rocks as well as in hedges and under damp refuse. Be sure to clear away these mentioned. Snails think they can be sly by finding all sorts of hideouts, but they must not underestimate my craftiness…
- Sprinkle ground coffee on plants: Coffee is a great solution to eradicate snail plagues in your garden. Another benefit of using coffee is that it also helps to enrich the soil.
- Crushed eggshells or ground ginger: these are great natural tools that aid as a barrier to snails’ movement. Lime and talcum powder can also be used to restrict their sliding efforts.
- Snail traps: Snails are attracted to stale beer, so be sure to fill a saucer or empty tuna can with beer and place it into the ground so that only its edges protrude. Snails will get stuck inside and drown. A yeast and honey mixture can also be used instead of beer.
- Copper deterrents: copper gives snails a small electrical shock and works as an effective barrier to keep them out of your vegetable patch, although it won’t eliminate them.
Other than the above one can also use snail bait, although I would strongly advise against it. Snail bait contains metaldehyde and can be extremely poisonous when ingested by cats or dogs. The problem with this bait is that they are flavoured with molasses, apple or bran to attract snails, and unfortunately, dogs or cats find them flavoursome as well. The first signs of poisoning are twitching and anxious behaviour and can be followed by seizures or even death. If this happens, be sure to take your pet to the vet immediately where medications and induced vomiting will assist recovery.
After doing research on snails, I must say I really don’t see why I thought them once to be a possible pet prospect! Not only are they disgusting, but they go around sliding nonchalantly whilst helping themselves to my garden. Paired with the thought of possibly contracting salmonella and in the worst case, meningitis, I must say that I am on the opposing team – preferring the cuddly to the slimy.