Heliciculture is branch of agriculture that deals with farming of escargot snails. Snail are raised under natural conditions for various purposes like medicine production, food and other byproducts for commercial use.
Introduction and History
There are some species of snails that are edible. Edible snails include African and Roman snail. These snails are commonly found in Mediterranean region of the world. Historically, the archeologists have found fossils of these snails like their shells. There is history for their edibility. Roasted snail shells have been found in excavations that indicates their prehistoric edibility. Lumaca romana (Roman Snail) culturing method is an old method of farming. This snail farming method was indicated by Fulivus Lippinus in 49 BC.
During this era, the snails were kept, and their fattening was performed by feeding them different herbs for growth of their flesh. The were kept in pens known as cochlea. The roman nations performed their farming because they were fond of snail flesh as dietary ingredient. This was revealed during archeological excavations in Morocco. Wall fish are also an example like snails to be eaten. But this was in Britain. Wall fish aren’t famous like snails. In history, there are various studies indicating snail eating in USA, but the Italian immigrants were the people whom bring this tradition in USA.
There is quite huge amount of money used by USA for import of snails. The USA imports for snails in 1995 was $4.5 million. The snails were imported in different edible forms like chilled, frozen, live, fresh and salted. France, Indonesia, Greece and China are the major importers of snail.
Snail species (Suitable for Farming)
Cornu aspersum is a French snail, they are small and grey in color. Their shell size is around 30-45 mm. They are found on the coasts of France and Greece. 1n nineteenth century it was brought to California and it turned to be a great pest. Cepaea nemoralis known as grove snail. Size of shell is 25 mm. commonly found in central Europe. It lives in woods and dunes. This snail consumes plant material like buttercups and dead worms. Helix pomatia also known as apple snail. This snail is native of Europe. It lives in mountains and woodlands. Its size is larger, and flavor is better the Helix aspersa. Thiba pisana is known as banded snail, size of shell is 20 mm. These snails live in dry and exposed places. This snail is native to Sicily. This snail is also among the pest snails and a serious threat for garden owners. It can clean orchard of citrus in few nights. Achatina fulica are the giant African snails, they are much bigger than other snails. The size can reach up to 326 mm. They are found in south Sahara region of Africa.
Snail Life Cycle
The snails are hermaphrodite in nature, because they have both sexes male and female. But before laying eggs they mate other snails. In some cases, these organisms act as male in one season and female in another season. Different species of snails have variable pattern of growth. Some species grow faster and other take more time for maturation.
Requirements for Snail Farming
A farmer should select a species that is capable of growing at fastest rate and high rate of production. There are various factors that can influence their growth and productivity. Those factors are noise, vibration, light, sanitary conditions, feeding pattern, temperature and stocking density. There are various requirements for snail farming that are needed to be fulfilled. Those are Outdoor pens, humidity measuring hygrometer, thermometer and sensor containing soil moisture measuring devices. They growth can be done in climate-controlled houses, they can be in plastic tunnels or green houses. They can be bred in controlled houses, but it is a requirement to put them in outdoor pen for their maturation. The favorable conditions for snail farming are temperature around 15-25 degree centigrade.
The humidity must be in range of 75 to 95%. Wind is bad for snails because it causes reduction of moisture. If soil flavor is good, it will be helpful for snail’s faster growth. Soil must not be to sandy or clay, it must contain 20-40% organic matter and pH around 7. Ground limestone must be added in soil to avoid the calcium deficiency. The first hatch snails eat their eggshells to fulfill their calcium need. So, they can consume unhatched eggs, cannibalism can be seen in them. Protein lettuce must be provided to baby snails because it is required for their faster growth.
Eggshell is an awesome food as starter for baby snails. Feeding season for snails is April to October. They rest from November to march, so during this time, there must not be any feeding. Snail eat solid food; they grasp the chunk and eat by rasping. They can eat apple, aster, beans, chive, kale, mountain ash, oats, mulberry, plum, pears, nuts, peas, tomatoes, lupines and wheat. There are lots of more food items that can be fed. They usually prefer juicy foods. Calcium must be supplied once in a week.
Good hygiene can prevent spread of disease and improve growth rate of snails. Food is presented daily to avoid spoilage. There are various parasites like nematodes, trematodes and fungi which can infect snails and snails can also serve as intermediate hosts for such parasites, then parasitic transmission can occur to humans as well. Different predators are also dangerous for snails like toads, frogs, rats, moles, weasels and some insects like beetle, flies and centipedes. Snail farming is possible in countries where it is consumed as food but in other countries its cultivation is done for medicine production and research purposes.
Hammad Ur Rehman Bajwa1, Muhammad Kasib Khan1, Asad Ur Rehman Bajwa4, Arsalan Zafar1, Nauman Iftikhar1, Ahsan Adeel5, Shehryar Shahid3, Muhammad Uzair Asghar1, Gulfam Younus3, Muhammad Rashid Khalid Bajwa2
- Department of Parasitology
- Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery
- Institute of animal and dairy Sciences
University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan
- University of Management Technology, Sialkot
- Punjab University, College of Pharmacy, Lahore