Looking for just the right invertebrate friend to fit into your household requires a little research and knowing what you're looking for. It's not wise move to bring any old garden or aquatic snail indoors without understanding their species or needs; especially if you have other pets in the tank.
Some species are completely illegal in different regions; for example, the giant African land snail is a banned pet in the United States.
Snails come from a diverse range of habitats, but most backyard or garden snails can be found in cooler, humid environments. During warm and rainy months, snails are often spotted climbing up the sides of walls; some snails eat the stucco of houses as a source of calcium for their shells. Other locations for land snails in the backyard include:
- Around the foundation of houses.
- Early morning, in dew-soaked grass.
- Beneath rocks, or fallen trees.
In the winter, snails tend to hibernate, usually underground or tucked away into cracks of rocks or tree hollows. During the spring, snails will bury clutches of eggs in topsoil; these eggs hatch after two to four weeks.
To capture snails from the backyard, set out a plate of par-boiled lettuce, and cucumber, in the early evening. Check on the greens through the evening, and then in the morning before the sun rises.
No matter the type of aquatic habitat you've got in your neighborhood -- be it pond, irrigation ditch, swamp, everglade or river -- chances are good that it contains one type of freshwater snail or another. Some species are barely visible, while others can grow to be the size of a man's thumb, and can be found in shallows where the bottom is sandy or muddy. You can capture snails with your bare hands in shallows, or bring along a net and a bucket. If you are sourcing freshwater snails with the intent to take them home, scoop up some of the water in their environment too. Add this to the water in their new home, to keep the change from being a shock to their system.
Saltwater snails are truly the ocean equivalent of their freshwater counterparts: They like to munch on sea grass beds, or bury themselves in loose sand. Smaller saltwater snails such as whelks can be found on beach walks, often in washed up seaweed. Most commonly sea snails will be found in places where large amount of sea greens grow, or along the ocean floor.
Some saltwater snails have defense mechanisms, such as violent bodily extension, sharp spines or even deadly toxins. The cone snail, for example, have a harpoonlike appendage that is used to paralyze its prey. This venom can be fatal, and as such, these snails should be sourced with extreme caution, and under the guidance of an expert.