My first reptile has arrived! 🥳 Help me fine-tune the basking spot/s?

Wow! She is stunning :star_struck: ! How old is she? If you would want any help sexing “her” I could always help. Definitely not the best but I know the basics. Just from the pictures so far I am 90% sure that she is a she (assuming she isn’t a super young skink).

do you have any plans on breeding her in the future? With those colors and pattern I would definitely consider it!

Thanks for the suggestions/help when it comes to euthanizing sails! I will most likely try to do CO2 method. I was planning on just breeding for myself but not anymore :wink:

I know we have said it before but Nova has got the absolute best owner out there and I seriously mean it!

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She turned 4 months old yesterday. :partying_face: As a rough estimate, I would say she’s currently about 10-12”. Any help on confirming the gender would be much appreciated! I’ve seen a few rudimentary guides on the topic, but have never actually seen a bts in-person until now. :joy:

No problem at all! I saw a few different sources talking about the effects of Co2 on snails and mollusks, so it’s worth looking into. It would be incredible to establish a documented, proven way to humanely harvest “food” snails for pet food. :+1: The “people food” industry could stand to update their methods, that’s for sure. :disappointed:

Aaaaawww, you guys are too nice! :hugs: :heart:

I haven’t ruled out the possibility of breeding her one day—it would depend on whether I had a “plan” of what traits/morphs I was aiming for, and managed to find just the right male for the project. For the foreseeable future, she’ll just be living the pet life. :grin:

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I keep forgetting to ask but what enclosure did you end up using? Always looking at different enclosures for a female skink i might in the future!

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It’s the Reptile Habitats 4’x2’x2’, shown here: Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 PVC Reptile Enclosure | $299 Free Shipping – Dubia.com

They’ve started using glass doors instead of acrylic, so the foggy/scratching issues have been fixed. :smiley: I was seriously on the fence, because the price seemed too good… but I’ve had nothing but a good experience so far! One thing to note is that the wire mesh top DOES NOT COME OFF once it’s on, which could be either good or bad, depending on your situation. If I were housing a very strong snake who might be inclined to push at it, I would consider it a huge plus. XD I had actually bought security attachments that I didn’t have to use, because the top is not budging AT ALL.

The sliding doors, on the other hand, are very easily removable for cleaning or replacement (if necessary), but don’t come with a lock of any kind. I bought these (had to make sure I bought ones with rubber casings, to avoid potentially cracking glass), and they get the job done: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3J1HZ19

So no real “problems” I could name, so long as you know what you’re getting. :slight_smile: Assembly was pretty simple, though a lot easier with a second person. Just a matter of being SURE you know which piece goes where, or else you risk backtracking and a lot of nerve-wracking deconstruction with a rubber mallet… Pretty clearly labeled really, just RESIST any temptation to do ANYTHING out of order, no matter how seemingly trivial! XD

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I have been looking into getting a stack of 2 or 3 of these and the positives you gave makes me think I will probably be getting some in the future! Thanks!

Also I can say my aquatic snail population is growing rapidly. I see tons of eggs everywhere. I just need my frog to finish his 6-12 month quarantine (he was wild caught by my friend and then dropped on me when he got bored) and I will probably have a couple thousand snails ready for delicious skink food

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Cool, glad I could help! :smiley: I may be getting another of these enclosures in the future if I can ever track down a sheltopusik for sale (another very good reason I need an ethical snail supply, lol!).

Oh, wow! Snails breed fast. O_O So all of the ones you’re planning to use as feeders are second-generation captive-breds, right? That should eliminate the parasite issue entirely, without having to cook them (and damaging the nutritional content in the process). I’m assuming you’re working with standard “mystery snails”, like those sold for aquariums?

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I am actually using “pest” snails. They are snails that usually hitchhike on aquarium plants and most people absolutely hate them. I have found that I can go to my petco and they will just give me a bag and let me pick out tons of snails (not for the breeding tank). Then breed rapidly and get bigger than a lot of people realize. Still a lot smaller than the more desirable species of snail though.

And yes they will be at least second generation (probably up in the hundreds if I had to guess)

I have been trying to breed mystery snails but it hasn’t worked out.

I think I am also try ramshorn snails after I do a bit of research on them

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It’s a shame typical “escargot” snails aren’t able to be transported around live in the States… On the one hand, I would hate anything that further enabled traditional (inhumane) preparation of escargot (complete with the ugliness of starving and boiling them alive in saltwater)… but I imagine their breeding stock must be so far removed from any chance of harboring bacteria or parasite, it would certainly put the mind at ease. They say the snails sold at pet stores are likely to carry parasites, but as long as the eggs were taken away from the first gen and hatched in another tank, the risk should be eliminated, right? :thinking:

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From what I understand pet store snails don’t carry any parasites, at least that can be given to other species, and is just a myth that is spread around. Some may carry parasites that can be passed on to other snails but even that I wouldn’t be worried about. As long as they weren’t taking from the wild, which at this point would be completely useless considering how many people are constantly trying to get rid of them, there is next to no chance of anything happening to a reptile.

The plants the snails hitchhike on are kept in large tubs to breed the plants in and the snails eat all the dead leaves and breed like mad. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are in the hundreds or even thousands of generations. Also a lot of the pest snails that are purposely bred are for puffer fish to eat and the chances of a parasite from a snail affecting another aquatic animal is a lot more likely than it affecting a land animal.

A lot of parasites are specific to a particular host species. Certain parasites are not specific to a certain host species however they almost always have to stay within a reasonable range. An aquatic snail parasite may be able to travel to a, lets say, crayfish or a fish. But I can almost guarantee that an aquatic snail parasite won’t be able to survive in a land dwelling reptile that would otherwise never even encounter. Also, remember that blue tongue skinks have a somewhat strong stomach acid to digest bone and other hard to digest foods so a parasite that is from an aquatic snail if it somehow managed to survive on land in an organism it would not encounter in the wild in a snail that has been in captivity for decades would probably just get digested.

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Also a lot of people have had success feeding wild land snails from their back yard with no issues at all. I am just being as safe as I can be by using captive aquatic snails

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I did manage to find some talk about this—it’s a concern I’ve been reading up on for some time. There’s always been a fear of snails/slugs as carriers of a type of lungworm that can be lethal if it infects a human… There was a really tragic incident in Australia (I think?) not too many years ago, where a man ate a slug on a dare and… it was just horrible: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/05/health/man-dies-after-eating-slug-on-dare/index.html

There’s not a lot of data on risks to reptiles, but here are a couple of pages worth checking out. The first is an article from an exotics vet: Lungworm in dogs, but what about in reptiles? | The Exotic Pet Vet Blog The second is a discussion about feeding snails to blueys, specifically: Wild Earthworms and Snails - BLUE TONGUE SKINKS

So there is definitely the potential for snails to spread parasites to vastly different types of animals… as much as I really wish that weren’t the case. :cry:

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Is there any info on aquatic snails to reptiles? I knew about the land snails but never heard anything about aquatic snails. Do you know anything about specifically aquatic snails?

I guess that is the reason they boil them. I was kinda thinking what if I humanly euthanize then boil them for a couple seconds. Would that work? Would freezing them work?

The difficulty could be in determining that they are 100%, definitely dead. After either c02 or freezing as a means of dispatching them, they’re usually left in the freezer for around a day to be sure they don’t unexpectedly “come back to life” (having actually been in deep dormancy, and mistakenly believed to be dead). Unfortunately, the minimum boiling time to kill parasites would be 15 minutes, according to this: Beware of Mystery Snails (that Are Not Really Mysteries!) | Hepper

At that point, a certain amount of the nutritional value is lost in the cooking process, unfortunately. :frowning: The more I read into it, the more I see why snails are not a more common feeder in the exotics industry… they’re difficult to harvest, difficult to “safely” prepare, and ultimately have lost a lot of nutritional value by the time they reach the food bowl.

I would maybe seek out the advice of someone who keeps Caimen lizards, since those are aquatic snail specialists. They would probably have a far greater wealth of knowledge on breeding and humanely keeping these types of snails, and best practices as far as avoiding parasites. This is yet another area where the research is really lacking, sadly. :frowning:

So do you think that the fact that they are captive bred makes them safe enough to feed to our skinks? You are clearly much more knowledgeable in this area than I am so if you feel safe with it than I would also. I personally feel that since they are captive bred that the benefits outweigh the risks by a decent amount.

I was also thinking about the people who keep their skinks (or any reptile really) outside for the warmer months. They are almost definitely eating a lot of wild snails, slugs, crickets, worms and a whole bunch of other things. Even tortoises are most likely eating a couple while chomping down on the grass. Eating wild things is part of keeping reptiles outside and the practice of keeping them out is highly encouraged. I don’t really ever hear of people having a problem with this so captive bred snails would just make it better for the animal.

Much of my understanding comes from a general knowledge of food-borne pathogens and parasites, more-so than anything specifically relating to reptiles. There are a number of really particular factors involved here that make me feel I’m not qualified to give a hard “yes” or “no” answer—though I honestly do appreciate your trust in me! Here’s a recent discussion of a very similar situation, with a lot of the same concerns being taken into account: Reddit - Dive into anything

Skinks DO obviously really enjoy snails (going by what I’ve seen and heard!), but the ones sold commercially for reptiles explicitly state that they’ve been boiled, which renders the nutritional benefits… not ideal. The boiling is also probably required to ensure safety. Being cooked doesn’t make them UNhealthy, just maybe not as natural or ideal as a staple diet. The dealbreaker for me with the “store-bought” snails is the high likelihood that the snails in question were not kept or harvested in a humane way, since that’s sadly the industry standard. :’( I wish that everyone—large-scale producers especially—were as conscientious and compassionate towards all types of “livestock” as most of the herp keepers I’ve known!

You raise a very valid point about predators feeding on snails and the like in the wild. I’ve kept a variety of birds and mammals outdoors through the years, free to graze/browse/forage at their leisure, and most lived very long, healthy lives. Chickens especially come to mind, as they will eat basically ANYTHING they can fit in their mouths, lol. One reason I would be more worried for skinks or other herps would be the fact that most are VERY far from “home” here in Michigan (we have ONE native lizard species… :sob:), and I don’t know what parasites or other pests might live here that they would never encounter (and thus have no inherent resistance to) in Australia or Indonesia. Granted… since I’m inexperienced with ectotherms on the whole, I’m erring on the side of hyper-caution. :confounded:

I’m going to keep researching before I decide on whether to go with snails (of any origin/source) or not, and whether there is an equally beneficial food source for snail specialists like sheltopusiks, skinks, and the like. I would definitely opt for boiling anything that was not 100% certain to have been separated from other snails while still in the egg, and kept in conditions free of any non-sterile substrate or materials, before feeding to any animal. From what I’ve managed to gather, separation from the group as eggs is the only way to be reasonably sure that the snail is free of parasites or pathogens, and couldn’t have picked them up from an adult while being housed together. For humanely dispatching them before boiling, I would look into c02, refrigeration/freezing, or some combination thereof… it seems there has been research done on the matter, but not as much as would be ideal, so anecdotal evidence will probably also have to be weighed on what’s the kindest way of going about it. :thinking:

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Since separation seems to be the best and safest way to get feeder snails I just separated out a batch of eggs to see if they still do well after being moved to a different container. Hopefully it works

I have learned so much about snails from reading this conversation. I had no idea there were so many complications in using snails as a food source!

@logar, it’s so cool that you’re trying to breed snails as a food source for snail-eating reptiles, and that you’re so dedicated to doing it safely and humanely.

I noticed that one potential complication is euthanizing the snails humanely. Is there any reason you can’t feed them (and potentially even ship them) live?

Good luck! I believe snail eggs are pretty resilient, so as long as the conditions are more or less equal in humidity and temperature, I don’t think you’ll have any problems. I know that people who keep snails as pets can have a hard time PREVENTING unwanted clutches from hatching! Just make sure that whatever substrate the eggs are on is sterile, and you should have the beginnings of a captive-bred colony that you can be relatively certain are healthy and safe.

Shipping live would present MAJOR difficulties in the U.S., depending on the species. Due to fear of snails and slugs becoming invasive, there are serious federal regulations preventing most species from crossing state lines. Some species are outright forbidden to own, countrywide (giant African land snails being the most infamous example). A short overview can be seen here: https://petsnails.proboards.com/thread/16277/shipping-snails-slugs-legal-info

Feeding them live CAN be an option, but only if you have a source of captive-bred, live snails available to you in-state. The conventional wisdom of “don’t use anything you find in the wild as a feeder” applies doubly to mollusks, because of the very dangerous parasites they can transmit (this is also partially why federal legislation about transport is so strict). Cooking at high temperatures for extended periods of time mitigates the risks greatly, but sadly… it can be nearly impossible to know if mass-produced, pre-cooked snails were managed in a remotely humane way, as animal cruelty laws rarely extend to invertebrates.

Snails that end up as “human food” like escargot are typically boiled alive (despite a wealth of scientific evidence indicating that they can and do feel pain, and will make every effort to escape from it), with reports of some individuals still moving on the customers’ plates in restaurants. :nauseated_face: Because there are very few regulations on the treatment of invertebrates, this is industry standard. Most data we have on humane methods of harvesting snails for food comes from researchers attempting to avert suffering in test subjects, pet snail owners faced with fatally injured or sick animals, and aquarists and herp keepers who either need to eliminate invasive species in their tanks, or provide mollusks as food for other animals. The main point I’m building up to being: because of the lack of impetus or pressure on the industry, raising mollusks as food humanely is more complicated than it should be. There aren’t well-established practices for it, because it was and is simpler/cheaper for major producers to do it horrifically. :cry: I imagine there are different levels of what I’ve described, and some producers probably provide a quicker end than others (when humans are the intended consumers, humane treatment often takes a backseat to texture, flavor, or other nitpicky factors—whereas I’ve never seen a cat leave a bad review on Amazon because their canned chicken pate was too “tough” or “stringy”). I have no opposition to providing meat for my carnivorous/omnivorous pets—quite the contrary!—but it has to be done the right way, and as it stands… I have no way of verifying which manufacturers are or are not taking decent treatment of their “livestock” into account.

Hence, the appeal of small-scale breeding and transparent practices within the community itself! People who love animals enough to be fussed over giving them the best diets and conditions are most often the kind of people who will show compassion and respect for the feeders they raise in-house. :heart:

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Ah, I see. I didn’t realise there were such strict laws on shipping snails (especially since they seem to end up shipped accidentally so often with aquatic and terrestrial plants and the like). I knew about the ban on giant land snails, but didn’t realise there were such restrictions on shipping ALL live snails.

So I guess euthanizing them would be the only way to ship them, and the only way to safely feed them live would be to either breed them yourself or source them locally from someone else who was breeding them.

I agree that all animals, even if they’re raised for food, deserve to be cared for properly and dispatched humanely. I always make an effort to source my frozen rodents and feeder insects from sources that raise them well and ethically.

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The snail thing has me a little concerned tbh, aquatic snails are known carriers for some pretty scary stuff, even prion diseases. Snails tend to be stop-over points for parasites during their life cycles, and those parasites can get passed on. Luckily, if those parasites aren’t present, the snails are safe.
For example, there is an aquatic snail in east Asian waters that is part of the life cycle of the parasite that can cause lymphodema and huge limb swelling diseases in humans, via consumption of the snail OR via consumption of the water.
I’d be very rigorous with trying to ID snail species and region of origin before breeding, and constantly moving offspring for several generations to try to break any parasitic cycles that could be occurring.

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