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Thamesmead vets giving away Giant African Land Snails

PUBLISHED: 15:37 06 October 2010 | UPDATED: 11:23 07 October 2010

Amy Coucher with giant African land snail called Michelle

Amy Coucher with giant African land snail called Michelle

Archant

Veterinary practice staff are giving away free giant African land snails after they took in more than 100 babies because a client could not look after them.

Veterinary nurse Lauren Keneham with chameleon called Bob

Nurses at Thamesmead Veterinary Surgery, in Joyce Dawson Way, Thamesmead, were given the baby molluscs which can grow up to 25 centimetres and live up to nine years.

Now the practice has been forced to give the remaining hermaphrodite molluscs, which originate in East Africa and which are banned in some countries, to residents for free - as long as they can look after them properly.

Veterinary nurse Amy Coucher said: “We thought they were unusual but it seems a lot of people round here have them. They can impregnate themselves and can have hundreds of babies at one time. They can have up to 500 snails a year.

“We have had a lot of people come in and ask about them because they are free but we make sure they are able to look after them properly before we give them away. They need to be kept in a well ventilated humid tank at approximately 25 degrees, lined with a damp bedding. They need to be fed leafy greens and given a source of calcium.”

The practice also breeds Panther Chameleons, native to the Madagascar’s rainforests, which are being taken to Chessington Zoo in Surrey.

Ms Coucher said: “Bob is the father and he is about three-years-old. He is a very laid back character. He is staying. The babies have to have their poo tested to make sure they are healthy, before going to the zoo.”

Male Panther Chameleons can grow up to 20 inches in length and females are usually about half the size. And the males are much more vibrantly coloured than the females.

If you are interested in looking after a giant African land snail, contact the surgery on 020 8311 5407.

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