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Giant snails in need of shell-ter

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

THEY'RE not furry, they're not cuddly… and you'd spend a very long time taking one for a walk!

But, nevertheless, two Ipswich youngsters believe that Giant African Land Snails make the perfect pets.

THEY'RE not furry, they're not cuddly… and you'd spend a very long time taking one for a walk!

But, nevertheless, two Ipswich youngsters believe that Giant African Land Snails make the perfect pets.

In fact, the only problem for ten-year-old Isobel Staples and brother Henry, eight, is that they've got too much of a good thing.

The youngsters started off with just four snails at their home in Bennett Road, Ipswich.

Now they have more than 100 babies – and they are desperate to find good homes for the young snails, before they grow too big for the aquarium in Isobel's bedroom!

"Our snails are called Cinammon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Spice," said Isobel. "They are really good pets and easy to look after."

Mum Marian Povey explained that it all started when a teacher at St Matthew's Primary needed a home for the four snails, and Isobel volunteered to take them on.

The youngsters enjoyed getting to know their new pets, and watching them as they tucked into fruit and veg, or burrowed under the layer of compost in their tank for a nap.

But after a while the snails became large – the biggest ones have shells about 25cm long. Then the eggs started to appear.

"At first we used to throw the eggs out, but then we thought we'd keep some and keep what happened," said Marian. "As a result, we ended up with 250 babies!"

Marian, who works in London, managed to persuade some of her colleagues to take snails home with them, and Isobel and Henry got some of their friends to adopt pet snails too.

But the family still has more than 100 baby snails which need good homes to go to – so now they are wondering if Star readers can help.

If you'd like to take on some pet snails, you will need to get a tank or aquarium and line it with a layer of compost.

The snails eat fruit and vegetables – cucumber seems to be a special favourite – and they also need to eat cuttlefish bones, available cheaply from petshops, because the calcium keeps their shells strong.

You will have to keep your pets indoors because it is too cold for them outside.

Marian said: "They don't smell as long as you change the compost regularly, and they are really good pets. You can sit and watch them for ages!"

If you are interested in offering some of the snails a good home, please contact Marian on 01473 749030.

WEBLINK

There's full information about how to look after Giant African Land Snails on this website:

www.geocities.com/Heartland/Valley/6210/

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