Snails make good pets. They're unobtrusive, quiet and very low maintenance. They need food and water a couple times a week, and a clean tank and new cuttlefish bone every month or so, and that's about it. Snails are also very low cost pets. Once you've got the snails (which you should be able to do for free or close to it, see my third paragraph) and the tank (mine came to just under 60$ all told for a tank big enough to hold 2 - 4 large snails plus corrugated plastic signs as a lid) they're almost free. They eat vegetable table scraps (they're especially fond of cucumber and zucchini), and the cuttlefish bones and moss they live on are dirt cheap.

Snails are fascinating creatures, too. You can see their muscles expand and contract as they move, and if the tank you keep them in is transparent (highly recommended) you can see the ripples on their bellies as they climb the walls. Their eyestalks are cute as anything, and they make a neat little scraping sound when the eat. I like it best when my snails hang upside down. It seems so contrary.

There are only two problems with snails. One is that they're kind of boring. If you want a pet that will interact with you, recognise you, and play with you, snails are probably not the best bet. This also means that it can be easy to forget about them and forget to feed them. Which is why it's good that they only need food every couple of days. The second problem is that snails are horny little bastards. They reproduce like *crazy* and they make tens of eggs in one clutch. It can be hard to unload the little ones too, because not everyone wants snails as pets. This is why it can be easy to get them for free, though. Anyone who has more than one snail living in the same tank is probably desparate to get rid of the offspring, and will pay you to take them away. This is even more problematic because snails are hermaphroditic, so all it takes is two.

The snails that I have are Giant African Land Snails and are illegal in the USA because they're an introduced species that could wreak all sorts of havoc on the ecosystem. This means that when my snails do reproduce I can't just release the offspring into the wild. Generally I take care of the problem by either crushing or freezing the eggs and then throwing them out. I feel kind of callous for doing this but, well, it's either them or my ecosystem, and I choose my ecosystem. What can I say?

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