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Oreo and Odessa's Favorite Pet Snail Stories:

Story #2:

Barney's Sad Beginnings
Turn Into a Good Life
as told by Odessa

Christmas 2004

Pomacea canaliculata

Hi my Friend,

Oreo, I'm so sad to have to tell you this: Barney, one of our pet apple snails, died this Christmas eve. We were all very sad. Mom even cried. Barney and Mom were very close you know.

After Mom removed Barney from her home aquarium and put her to rest, Mom dried her eyes, pulled up a chair and started to tell us all about Barney's life.

It was not a sad story Mom told us, Oreo, and it wasn't not only about Barney's life. This story of Barney's life could be the story of millions of other pet apple snail lives all rolled into one story. I decided that I wanted to shareher story with you Oreo as I know you will be as interested init as I and my mates were.

Barney's life was not at all like our lives. Barney was an amphibious snail. Where as you and I will live all our life on dry land, amphibious snails like Barney live their lives in water but they must come up to the surface of their aquariums, streams or ponds to breathe. They also lay their eggs just above the water's surface. The rest of the time they spend under water.

Barney and her kind (species) are called Apple Snails or by their Latin name Pomacea canaliculata . They are more commonly know as Apple Snails, Golden Apple Snails, Channeled Apple Snails, Canas, and Mystery Snails.

Barney was not born in the wild as you and I were. She was born on a snail farm. A snail farm is where people raise snails to sell to pet shops and other stores that have pet departments in them. Now a days they can even be bought on the internet from some of these places.

When Barney and her brothers and sisters were just old enough to sell (Some were the size of a dime and some were the size of a nickel), they were boxed up and then shipped to stores in different states all over the United States. They are never packed with any food and many of these snails are shipped long distances and take days to reach the stores that they are going to.

Some stores when receive these baby snails treat them very well. They place them in nice clean homes with lots of food and everything an apple snail could want. These are the lucky snails. Others, like our Barney were not so lucky. Upon arriving at their store, these unlucky babies get placed into little cups that are half full of water. "Just water" - No food to eat at all.

These poor baby snails in their little cups just get placed on a store shelf. And, there they sit. These poor baby snails will remain there until someone buys them or they die and get thrown away. Often, no food is put in their cups and they are even lucky if they get clean water once in awhile. Isn't that just awful! Mom doesn't know how long these poor little snails can sit in those cups without food and fresh water but I'm sure it isn't too long before they starve and die.

One day about a year and a half ago, Mom went shopping in a certain department store (we cannot use the real name of the store, but it is a big store found in every state and in every major city). Mom needed to buy some fish food for her pet fish at home so she wondered back to the pet department in the store. There, she saw a bunch of little cups all lined up on a shelf. She looked into the cups to see what was in there. Much to her horror, most of the cups contained only empty shells with the little brown trap doors(called operculums) laying off to the side.

Mom said there must have been at least twenty or more of these cups sitting on that shelf. One by one she looked at the cups. Mom could not see any sign of food in any of these cups, so in her heart, she knew that those poor snails, all but four of them, had starved to death.

First, Mom felt very sorry for those poor unfortunate snails, but then then she felt very angry at the store for allowing this to happen. She asked to see the person in charge of the pet department.

Mom told the man that all the snails were dead but for four of them. She asked him if they ever fed these snails. He said they did not feed them; but, she was wrong - the snails were not dead.

Mom got even angrier and she told him that she didn't know a lot about snails, but she was smart enough to know that if the trapdoor was in one corner of the cup and the shell was in the other corner, the snail was DEAD!... It was impossible not to know you were looking at a dead snail.

Well the stubborn man still said that she was mistaken they were not dead. So, Mom marched off to the office and talked to the manager of the store. She told him that he had a shelf full of dead snails and that they had most likely starved to death. He said, OK and he would look into it. This said, he promptly walked away in the the opposite direction of the pet department. Mom was upset, but what could she do.

Mom was finished her shopping so she went to the checkout. There she stood in line with a few other people. She stood there thinking about those poor four snails left on that shelf starving to death. When she finally reached the cashier, she just couldn't take it any longer. She turned around and walked right out of the line up. She marched back to the pet department and snatched up the four cups that still had live snails in them. She paid for them and brought them home.

Once home, Mom lovingly placed these poor little snails into a nice clean guppy fish tank. One of the babies died latter that night. He was just too weak to go on living. At least he died in a clean home.

Mom had never had pet snails in her life and she had no idea how to care for them. Fortunately Mom and Dad (My human parents that is) owned a computer and they were on the internet. So, Mom went on to the internet and searched on ways to care for these three poor remaining snails.

She happened on a web site named Applesnail. There she found lots of information and friendly people there that were willing to share their advise and knowledge. If you are interested, this is the Apple Snail Website by Stijn Ghesquiere.

Here is a funny part in this story... Mom didn't even know how to tell which snail was a boy and which one was a girl... Well, she named the one snail Barney, the second snail Barney2 and the third snail Rachel. Barney and Barney2 were bigger so she figured they must be boys. Of course later on she knew better, especially when the Barney started mating and laying eggs masses. That was a good joke on Mom.

These three snails grew and grew.

Barney as compared to a baby Cana

When Barney and Barney2 were old enough to have babies Barney laid many egg masses. Barney2 never in her life laid any eggs. Mom really doesn't know why but as Barney 2 only lived about six months, she thinks that it may have had something to do with the starvation damage Barney2 had experienced when she was young and on that store shelf. She was never a very strong snail, but she did grow to be as big as Barney.

Barney loved to play on Mom's hand in the water and eat right from her fingers. Mom would take her out of the water and Barney would come of her shell and eat the goodies Mom would offer her. Barney loved fresh shrimp! That had to be her all time favorite. Barney even liked it when Mom would take a old soft toothbrush and gently scrub the algae off her shell.

Barney laid thousands of eggs in her life time, however, she only saw a few of those eggs hatch. Mom being a very responsible pet owner knew that she could not keep and feed that many snails so the eggs were destroyed long before they had a chance to develop. Barney had two deferent mates to choose from.

After Barney laid her last clutch of eggs she started to act very weak. She didn't climb the glass on the aquarium as fast as she used to. She didn't rush to the food and gather as much as she could in her foot and gobble it down with her head poked in her foot. She waited and just nibbled a little bit of food at a time. She still came to Mom's hand but it took her a long time.

Barney's first and last clutch was when she mated with another Golden Cana Snail and all her young were gold colored.

Barney was also allowed to mate to a channeled Cana snail. Their babies had shells of all colors: brownish green with stripes, gold colored, etc.

Mom knew Barney's health was failing. Two weeks before Christmas of 2004 Barney could no longer climb the aquarium glass to reach the surface inorder to put her siphon up to fill her lungs with air, and as you know, apple snails must breathe air to live. Barney would drown if Mom didn't do something fast.

So, Mom made a platform out of Lava rocks in the aquarium and put a heavy dog bowl on top of those. This bowl sat, just about two inches, under the water level in the aquarium. She tenderly placed Barney in to this bowl. Mom hand fed Barney every day.

During Barney's last week, one of her daughters, by the name of Betrice, crawled into the bowl with her and there she stayed with Barney night and day. Betrice placed her foot on to Barney's back and held on to her for most of the week. Betrice ate some of the food that Mom put in the bowl but she never took her foot off of her mother's shell even while eating. This last week, Barney only ate a tiny amount of food from Mom's hand and then she stopped eating all together.

Four days later, it was Christmas eve, Mom walked by the tank and looked at the bowl... Betrice was not in it... and there was Barney laying very still. Betrice was sitting on the bottom of the aquarium beside the bubble wand. Mom knew in her heart that Barney had died. Mom lifted Barney out of the bowl and held her. Barney had died. Mom started to cry........We were all sad........

Well, Mom through her tears, continued to tell us all about Barney and then she started to reminisce about Barney's daughter. She started to think of the recent behavior she just witnessed in Barney's last days...Betrice had never left her side.

Betrice had always been Barney's favorite offspring. She had always stayed near Barney in the aquarium. Barney would never take food away from her as she did with the other bigger snails. (Apple snails are real piggies when it comes to their food and they will steal food from each other all the time.) Mom wondered, did the daughter know her mother was sick and dying? Why else would she have climbed into the bowl and stayed with Barney right to her Mom's death? ........Why did she leave the bowl once Barney was dead?........ Even after Barney's death, her daughter sat in that same spot in the aquarium all that night and was still there the next morning........She did not start moving around until that afternoon, almost 24 hours later........ Mom says she truly believes in her heart and head that the Betrice was grieving.

Barney had lived a wonderful life, that is after she left that dreadful store shelf. Mom said she had been a real clown. She had made Mom laugh everyday. Barney was also a good Mom. She would never take food away from her babies; but, she would grab food from any of the other bigger snails.

When eating, Barney would take a piece of food, she would make a sort of apron of her foot and stuff this fold with as many algae wafers as she could pick up........Then she would snatch the wafers as fast as she could with her mouth and stuff them into her foot pouch........Then, she would turn her back to the other snails and stick her head in the pouch and gobble up the algae wafers........ It was really funny to watch her!

If Mom would drop a snail biscuit in the aquarium, Barney would hurry over and put her big foot over it and just sit there until the other snails got tired of waiting and would leave. Then, Barney would grab the biscuit with her foot, make a pouch and eat all she could. Remember, I told you Canas were piggies! - Well Barney was a piggie as well, just not with her babies.

Barney had a kind heart as well. When the other female snails would go to the top of the aquarium to lay their eggs, Barney would always climb to the top of the tank with them and she would put herself directly under them . There she would stay until they were done laying their eggs. Sometimes this would take 2 hours or more. As soon as the egg laying was over, she and the tired Mama snail would drop to the floor of the aquarium at the same time.

If Mom was busy in the room where Barney's tank was, Barney although she couldn't see her, seemed to know she was there. Barney would crawl as fast as she could up the side of the aquarium and make a funnel with her foot. Mom on seeing Barney's actions would go and get a treat for her and stick it in her foot. Mom had started doing this when Barney was just a little snail and she kept it up her whole life or at least until Barney got sick.

Mom says that snails are very intelligent. Well Oreo, you and I both know this is to be true. Barney and her daughter's actions shows just how intelligent snails can be.

I just wish more people like our human Moms knew this fact. Maybe then we would get more respect and better treatment.

So my dear friend Oreo, that is the story of Barney. A true snail life story... As in all life, their are sad times and there are happy times. This is true even for us snails.

But most important - we need to remember that all living things need to be treated with the dignity they deserve.


Barney didn't even mind being held by Mom's daughter for occasional pictures.


Mom loves all of her pet children dearly and she cried and cried when Barney died. She still gets awful sad when she thinks about her. Barney was about 15 months old when she died. We don't know how old she was when Mom rescued her. But that is how long she lived with Mom.

Mom is giving Barney's beautiful shell to a lovely young college student who is doing research on snails. This student, by the name of Donya, spends all her free time helping people to care properly for snails . Mom says Donya is a very special person and that she knew Barney well. So, Mom feels that Barney would approve of this. Barney's shell will become part of a very important personal shell collection and she is sure that Donya (and Barney's spirit and life story) will help to educate many people on the proper care and treatment of snails.

Here are some of the cana eggs:

These are the eggs clutches laid by three apple snails in one twenty-four hour period.

This is a closeup of one those egg masses.

Oreo there were 238 eggs just on the top row! Mom says this clutch would easily hatch out 400 live snails. (Apparently the birth rate is about 400 babies born from just one clutch like the ones pictured above). Oreo nothing eats Cana eggs. They taste TERRIBLE. It make animal's mouths burn if they try to eat them. If Mom just let ten clutches hatch, there would be approximately another 4,000 snails Canas mouths to feed! YIKES! Now you see my friend, why we are so worried about this. We have a great concern over this. If people are going to raise applesnails as pets then they have to take responsibility not to turn something this prolific loose in the environment.


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