In the past veterinary interest in snails has been confined to their role in the transmission of disease; nowadays the trend to keep these animals in captivity--for food, for study, as 'companion animals'--means that the profession is increasingly likely to be consulted about their health, welfare or conservation. An understanding of the biology of snails is an important prerequisite to work with them. Land snails are hermaphrodite and have a complex reproductive system; other organs also show special adaptations. Management methods vary considerably and farmed snails can be maintained under extensive or intensive conditions. Methods for handling and transporting them are important considerations. There is little published information on the diseases and pathology of snails but suboptimum environment, poisons, nutritional deficiencies, predators and parasites are known to cause, or contribute, to their mortality.