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Aquatic Snails For Sheltopusik?

Discussion in 'Feeders' started by LittleBlackLizard, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. As I've posted elsewhere, I'm planning on getting a sheltopusik. Since snails form a large part of their natural diet, I'd like to be able to provide it with live snails as a food, in addition to the more run-of-the-mill feeder animals.

    The catch is, I don't really have any way to get live terrestrial snails where I live. Several varieties of aquatic snails are regularly sold at pet stores, though. If I set up a breeding colony of either ram's horn or apple/mystery snails in a spare tank, would those be an acceptable food source?

    Also, if aquatic snails are an acceptable food source, would it be better to give them to the lizard in a regular food bowl, or present them in the water bowl so they stay wet? On the one hand, I'm concerned that when out of water, the snails would retract into their shells, and not present as appetizing of a target to the sheltopusik, but I'm also not sure if foraging in a water source comes naturally for sheltopusiks.
  2. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, the aquatic snails would be fine, you can leave them in a shallow dish of water, and even if they crawled out and retracted into their shells the Sheltopusik would still be capable of eating them (crushing the shells).
  3. Good to know I wasn't sure because aquatic snails have an operculum while most land snails don't. One more thing, if whole snails are regularly included in a lizard's diet, should the frequency of calcium dusting of other foods be decreased because of the calcium provided by the shells? I know an overabundance of calcium can also provide health issues.
  4. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I`m not sure that all lizards can digest snail shells, I would tend to use some supplementary calcium (even if in small amounts on other invert prey). Vertebrate prey do not require supplementation.
    It would probably take some time before the shells were digested if they can be (many weeks).
  5. I don't know about all lizards, but I would think that a snail-and-slug specialist like a sheltopusik could. You do have a good point about it potentially taking a long time, though. I wasn't thinking about eliminating calcium dustings completely, just possibly using it in a somewhat smaller dose than instructed on the packaging.
  6. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Just because they regularly prey on snails doesn`t necessarily mean they can digest the shells, much of the time they will crush the shell then reject the shell pieces. Many reptiles will eat eggs (some quite regularly) such as Varanids, yet they can`t digest reptile egg shells (even their own) but can digest bird eggs. I need to log out...
  7. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    one thing to be mindful of with snails is that some species can transmit a number of particularly interesting diseases and parasites. You may have to monitor your animal for signs of infestation.

    Many animals can tolerate a light parasite load, as long as they are in good health and not stressed. If yours shows signs of illness, you may need to regularly treat for parasites.

    as to terrestrials, a few edible species have been introduced in the states, namely Grove snails (Grove snail - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia They are easy to establish and terrestrial.
  8. DwarvenChef

    DwarvenChef Elite Member

    Try Quail eggs, small and many specialty food stores carry them nowdays. Also large worms (dusted) can also be used. I can't recall what I fed the worms to get them to purge the dirt however...
  9. I've never seen any land snails like those in my area. Besides which, I'm not sure of any areas nearby that would be chemical-free and thus safe to collect from. There probably are some, I just have no idea where.

    As for parasite, one reason I'm leaning towards apple snails is that they're often bred as prey for snail eating fish, so I'm hoping that means they carry fewer parasites. It is certainly possible they carry some that affect lizards, but not fish, though, so I'll remain vigilant in looking for signs of illness.

    @DwarvenChef: Thanks for the tip on quail eggs, I'll look into them. I've also seen pieces of hard-boiled chicken egg suggested as an occasional treat for sheltopusiks, so there's that too. As for worms (by which I assume you mean earthworms such as nightcrawlers), I was already aware of those, and I think I read somewhere that to purge the dirt from them you can put them in a container of vegetable scraps.
    DwarvenChef likes this.

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