1. Snails need air! They do have lungs and like to use them. You can put them in a sealed plastic container (add perhaps a layer of small rocks, dirt, leaves and wet all that) but make sure the top has holes in it! Holding a snail upside down might be easier to spot its breathing hole on the mantle located between the shell and its body.
2. Snails are vegetarians, they will eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables (especially the rotten kind), grains and seeds, even dirt if there's nothing else, but don't give them any meat (their rough tongue does all the cutting)! Start with a plain (but delicious) fresh piece of lettuce and move on to other kinds of food, add some calcium to build up strong shells (chalk will do just fine). Or take it from a French snail farmer and just gives them plain old wheat flour (the kind that's in your kitchen) mixed with grounded white beans (Yum! and much less poop).
3. Don't forget to give them water: they need to drink. A damp wet paper towel or napkin will do fine. But what they really will look forward to is their daily shower with lukewarm water. Cold weather or dry air will cause them to become less active and perhaps even hibernate. There will be nothing like that shower to wake them up. But be careful not to try ice or snow or they might die in just a few days: while in nature their body will amazingly adapt to all kind of temperature (they will even produce anti-freeze for their blood), abrupt changes will kill them.
4. They love damp and dark! They do have eyes at the end of their longer tentacles (not on the bottom short ones) but scientists think they can only distinguish light from dark and not much more. They also use their "eyes" to feel the world around them and check for obstacles (to confirm what they can barely see). And you thought they already started to recognize you!. Have fun testing which type of surface they enjoy most, take a guess first: smooth or rough, moist or dry?
5. They are nocturnal animals: bright lights will get them to hide in their shells. They will mostly be active in the early evening, the night and early morning. So when you want to play with them just sprinkle them with water, that ought to "wake them up"!
6. They can't hear you! Go ahead, shout, whisper, tell them all your secrets, they don't even have ears!
7. They have a great sense of smell, that's how they find their food. See if you can make them smell the food to motivate them during a race!
8. Let's see, is it a boy, is it a girl? It's both: snails are hermaphrodites which means that they have both female and male organs. After they find a mate, both snails will lay eggs in the dirt. Wait 3 weeks for the eggs to hatch and look at how cute these little babies are! Try mating different kinds of snails and create your own new kind! They usually reproduce in the spring and hibernate in the winter. Make sure to keep them under moderate temperatures and in a moist environment.
9. A snail can live just as long as a dog, perhaps even longer (if no one eats it!). They can live 15 to 20 years.
10. Don't forget to wash your hands carefully after you handle them: although they are not know to carry diseases, the slime they produce is just so plain gross! But that slime is very useful to them, it protects their soft body from getting cuts and bruises. A snail can even go over a razor blade without getting hurt!
Fun with my snail:
Here are some pictures and videos found here and there on the web, have fun watching them and then, make your own!
Snails travel randomly which is why they are better raced in a circular race track...
Some questions about your Pet Garden Snail?
My snail sleeps all day and doesn't do much, is it sick?
A snail reacts to humidity, temperature and light. Make sure all 3 are right: is there enough water in its box, is the air humid enough (if not a shower with luke warm water should wake him up); is it winter and the air is cold (perhaps it needs to be closer to the heater)? Day light usually does not entice him to come and play, you may have to make him...
Where are my snail's eyes?
Your snail's eyes are at the end of its longest pair of tentacles. They look like black lines along the inside of the tentacles and they form a black dot at the very end of two top tentacles. They can retract to avoid danger. The bottom two tentacles (the shorter ones) are for smelling and feeling.
How does my snail move?
The top of its foot produces slimes which allows it to slide on any surface without hurting himself. This way, sharp rocks, pine needles, nothing hurts it! To avoid loosing too much moisture, the snail can sometimes jump...