Creating a Vivarium: Snails

A few weeks ago we created what we termed a “roly poly terrarium.”  Soon after, we discovered another species of roly poly, so we created a second “roly poly terrarium.”  A week or so after that, we found a snail and decided that we needed perhaps to combine the three habitats into one vivarium.

We purchased an inexpensive 10-gallon aquarium (including a screen lid) at PetSmart.  I began by forming a hill in one corner of the aquarium…so I could plant a weed–part of the roly polies shelter and diet.  I poked a hole in the center of the 5″ tall hill and carefully replanted the roots of the plantain that had been in our first roly poly terrarium.

Next, I sifted soil taken from our backyard compost over the hill and the bottom of the aquarium (2″ deep).  Why sift the soil into the aquarium?  If you own a compost you know what resides there…if you do not, think:  various kinds of earthworms, millipedes, centipedes, earwigs, etc.

I added smoothed rocks (purchased at Dollar Tree) that I had washed and dried.  The smaller rocks I placed around the base of the hill and in one corner and a few larger rocks, I placed randomly.  I added a piece of bark that we had found in the woods–to serve as shelter for Snaily.  And, a miniature terra cotta pot (’cause it looked cute!). I added a chunk of limestone to the aquarium–as it is good for snails’ shell development and strength!  And finally…misted it thoroughly.  Why?  Snails and pill bugs require a moist environment.  Once everything was set up…we added our roly polies and Snaily!

As you can see, a vivarium is not particularly difficult to set up, nor is it difficult to maintain.  In fact, the only maintenance involved includes misting the soil and rocks and…changing the lettuce.  We added a sea shell filled with corn meal recently.

Since starting our vivarium we’ve learned quite a bit about its inhabitants.  We’ve learned that Snaily is primarily nocturnal–choosing to come out of his log or from beneath the rocks in the evening…so he may dine on lettuce.  He does not like tomatoes, strawberries or cantaloupe (but, the baby roly polies like it).  He prefers to “poop” inside his log (oftentimes on the interior roof of it) and one more thing…

Snaily is going to be a mommy/daddy!  Snails are hermaphrodites; we generally call Snaily he, though.  As you can see, apparently when we found Snaily he was ready to deposit some eggs–because yesterday, he did!  This neat little pile of eggs was discovered by me this morning…and according to our research, the eggs will hatch in 2-4 weeks.  Stay tuned…

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