This is a comprehensive guide on how to start a profitable snail farming business in Nigeria, the A-Z with in-depth details from experience, I just made these huge resources to encourage young Africans even beyond Nigeria on how you can tap into this underexplored niche to earn more revenue in dollars through snail exportation business
I bet you are wondering if snail farming is very profitable given the time period it takes for snails to mature from growers stage to jumbo size or Point of lay (POL)
This post covers everything you need to know about the snail farming business from start to finish, so I am not writing for experts, it is meant to guide inexperience, amateur and intending snail farmers plus if you would love to learn how to start a backyard snail farming business even in limited space,
Also in this article resources, I will walk you through the process of constructing your snail pen, it’s very important, most times it affects the way and manner they eat or grow, how you can use locally available materials in your vicinity to fabricate your own style of snail pen or hutch the will be effective in protecting and providing the needed environment for egg layer and weight gain
Here are should some frequently asked questions every newbie into snail farming always asks:
These are questions you will get the in-depth answer to as you read on
Introduction to Snail farming business
Now let start by understanding what your intentions towards rearing snails are, ok, you wish to multiple your snails within the shortest allowable time through the hatching of their eggs, groom, feed, and then sell them for profit right? then you are on the track.
Before you can start this business, there are certain factors you must consider especially in your vicinity, for the smooth running of the business, these factors are
Availability of space: you need to settle the space requirement if you intend to go into large scale production of snails, without much space you are left with the option of the intensive system using cages and hutches which will not be compared to a free-range or greenhouse system where the snail is free to roam about and can multiple in large proportion,
Capital: for starters, if you have other main businesses you are into, you could start with backyard pens or hutches then move to bigger spaces when productivity increases, your capital will determine which system of rearing you will embark on.
Access to Market: it’s very crucial to seek how snail demand and supply is run in your area, even though you can still supply across the country or export it, however, my principal advice is, to have one or two active snail sellers in your neighborhood market, this makes you have a readily available market to dispose of your table size snails immediately they are matured
Snail Feeds: despite snails can feed on almost everything consumable by humans except salty foods, if you are to start commercially, one thing you should seek out is where to get fruits or vegetables, you can achieve this by reaching out to the fruits sellers for their damaged or leftovers because fruits like pawpaw, cabbage, okra, watermelon, banana are snail favorites
Species of Snail Good for Commercial Farming
Snail farming is beyond stocking the point of lay (POL), it is one of the highest paying businesses in the agricultural sector, to succeed we must know the family of snails we rear in Africa and study their way of life.
Helicidae species are majorly reared in Europe and America.
Two subspecies of this snail are very famous among the others.
I) Helix aspersa ( Garden snail)
II) Helix Pomatia. (Burgundy snail – Wikipedia)
These snails are garden snails, they accumulate up to 30g of body weight at maturity, they live their life on the plant surface, feeding on grasses, vegetables, and fruits, most of them are considered invasive because of how fast they can reproduce and eat up green vegetables
the achatinidae, This group is made up of two types of snails.
1) Forest snails.
2) Garden snails.
Commonly reared in Africa, they are called Africa Giant land snails. Four of the subspecies are very famous among others.
- Achatina Fulica
- Achatina Achatina (AA)
- Achatina Marginata (AM)
Achatinas are forest snails, they hide under plants from sunlight, wind, heat, and feed on dead and live plants, fruits, dead animals and extract calcium from the soil, but LIMICOLARIA and ACHATINA FULICA are Garden snails.
Just like helix aspersa or Pumatia, achatinidae garden Snails lives on plants and can lay fertile eggs without mating. They produce more slime and are smaller in size than Forest Snails.
They lay more than 100 – 400 eggs per clutch in a cycle and have more Laying circles than Forest Snails.
They can be found in Northern Nigeria because they have the capacity to withstand high temperatures.
- Some notable features of Fulica and Limicolaria
- They can survive direct sunlight and wind without dehydrating.
- They can be fed to catfish after washing…
- They are the best for slime extraction…
Many snail farmers conclude them to be AA as they have the same shell formation but color difference. One funny thing about them is, eggs laid at the last quarter of the rainy season can hatch the next rainy season.
Let’s study them one after the other at least to give you a brief insight into your newfound heliculture venture ( that’s right, snail farming is called heliculture).
AF for short is very common in Nigeria swamps & gardens, it lays between 100 eggs to 600 eggs per Clutch (batch) and can up to 3 to 8 clutches times a year. If the environment is conducive.
it has shell formation or resemblance with Achatina Achatina (AA) but with few color difference
Most farmers have bought this snail in place of AA, but later realized it’s AF.
This is why you need to be watchful and buy from experienced snail breeders if you were intending to start a snail farm either for commercial or personal purposes.
It’s not good for snail meat production but it is the best for slime extraction, it produces more slime than other gardens and Forest Snails.
It lays 50 eggs and above per batch and can regulate it four to seven times a year.
It has the same shell formation and color as ACHATINA FULICA.
It’s not advisable to rear this for meat production. Its most times are seen as a pest in the farm or garden
Achatina Achatina (AA).
It is indigenous to countries like Ghana, Benin Republic, and Togo, etc, the AA is popularly referred to as Ghana tiger snail because it is majorly found in Ghana.
The extra jumbo size and the designs on the shell it has the yellowish and darkish spine on the shell which has close similarity with a tiger color. AA has a very pointed tail just like AF, it usually has six or more ring rounds curved on the shell.
The eggs are the same size as AF eggs and they grow slower compared to AM. it can grow big in the long run, it is not good for business in Nigeria. It lays between 100 eggs to 200 eggs per batch and can regulate this batch 3 to 6 times a year.
If you must farm AA please start with 20 pieces, experience they say is the best teacher.
Nigeria’s climate is not favorable for this particular species of snail.
Archachatina Marginata (AM).
It is called the big black snail or giant snail, it is commonly found in the forest along the coastline of West Africa, this is one of the most common found snails in Nigeria amidst ACHATINA FULICA, the shell has a mottled color of black, brown, white, pink, and very thick.
The skin color is dark grey, some breeds of white skin are found in some areas usually called albino snails. They are 11 to 19cm at maturity and can weigh between 300 to 9 to 500g or more.
They grow to full size in their natural habitats from 12 to 14 months or more.
The shell is less pointed than the ACHATINA ACHATINA species.
Archachatina Marginata is not a snail but a subfamily of achatinidae with over seven subspecies.
- Archachatina Marginata CAMERUNENSIS
- Archachatina Marginata EDUARDO
- Archachatina Marginata CANDEFACTA
- Archachatina Marginata GREVILLEI
- Archachatina Marginata ICTERICA
- Archachatina Marginata SUTURALIS
- Archachatina Marginata OVUM.
Yes, I know you are surprised about all these subspecies I listed above right? Because the majority of snail Farmers only know and talk about two among the seven, the Sauralis and the Ovum’s, it doesn’t mean the other five have gone extinct.
Let’s focus on the two popular Marginata’s, the Ovum and Saturalis because they are very fast growing and great for meat production,
Archachatina marginata Suturalis (AMS).
AMS is very common in swampy regions but that doesn’t make it a water snail, it is easily found in Delta State and the Eastern part of Nigeria.
It lays five (5) to ten(10) eggs per clutch and can regulate this batch three (3) to eight (8) times in good environmental conditions throughout the year.
It is very slow in growth compared to Achatina Marginata Ovum, it doesn’t have strong international market value, and it can take up to five (5) years to grow to jumbo size, wow that’s a whole lot of time if you ask me!
We have two types of suturalis:
Swap suturalis and land suturalis.
Land suturalis grow faster than swamp suturalis but are not comparable to Ovum both have the same egg-laying capacity.
Archachatina marginata Ovum (AMO).
Many farmers consider it a hybrid snail because
- it can out-grow other snails and accumulate more weight in a very short space of time. ( exactly why you should pick this type)
- It has the highest international market value and can grow to jumbo size within two years
- It lays between five (5) to ten(10) eggs per clutch and can regulate this batch three to five times a year
Two Main purposes of Rearing Snails
Just like in Poultry Production, some birds are kept for meat or egg purposes however in snail farming you are either rearing for slime production or meat production, slime production is a highly untapped sector in snail farms because people are yet to understand how it’s done, the snail slimes are used by big tech pharmaceutical companies in making body creams, various cosmetics, and drugs
While in meat production which is the most common practice of all snail farmers snails are raised for consumption purposes, it’s up to you to decide which area to focus on, the interest will determine which species of snail to raise I put it out in two summaries below
For meat production; AMO ( Achatina Marginata Ovum)
For slime extraction; AF ( Achatina Fulica)
Now I am pretty sure you have known more than enough about snails and you are ready to go into the snail farming business right? Then welcome, but what next?
There are certain steps and farm management practices you must practice to be very successful, First, you need to set up their housing units,
The Snail Housing system differs but it’s not rocket science to set up, It all lies in your capacity, you can rear snail in any place even inside your living rooms lol a surprise? Don’t be, snail house can be an empty plastic container of paints to baskets, etc,
For clarity and productivity, the best places to raise snails are in cool and shaded areas, in your back yard, free from direct sun rays, in your gardens, few people often raise snails using car tires if you have the desire to grow more than 50 snails or more, then small enclosures won’t be very productive, you can construct cages, hutches or use the greenhouse system whereby the snails are major kept together with green gardens but on a secured free-range system,
After you have gotten ready the snail pen, it’s time to prepare the housing environment to be conducive for them. There are two ways you can utilize to get the house ready, The soilless system of raising snail or utilization of soil,
The soilless system can only be applicable in the intensive system which requires lots of care and attention but it’s also productive, as a professional and researcher in snail farming, I will recommend the system for slime production and snail hatchlings ( snail babies because they are delicate and can die easily in any slight changes of the environmental condition
The soilless system is great but one disadvantage of it, whenever the snails are left for a long time without adequate moisture they die out, you must ensure you moisten their pen daily and will provide lots of plantain leaves to retain the moist humid micro atmosphere in their pen, this is why their house must be under a shade or in a room, under trees to regulate the temperature of the house,
High temperature is bad for snail business because it increases mortality (death rate) its cool to consider the saturalis love a swampy humid environment, but the Ovum is better with soil moisture less than 50, they can also tolerate a slight increase in high temperature, unlike Saturalis, Fulica’s and the AA’s
The best kind of soil for snail farming is Loamy soil.
Loamy soil is any soil that can conveniently support the growth of vegetables. But for a more in-depth explanation, the soil texture should not be coarsely mixed with stone, it shouldn’t be mashy too like the clay soul which tend to be waterlogged, the soil should be dark, riched in organic matter, ( Here is how to convert a soil to loamy soil )
After getting the loamy soil you need to treat the soil to prevent diseases or larvas of ants, flies which are normally laid in riched loamy soil to hatch and eat up your snail
Soil Preparation for the Snail Pen
For an intensive system of raising the snails, you need to treat your soil in order to reduce the chances of contaminating your pen with other dangerous pests or insects, larvas of other organisms which can eat of your snails
You can later re-introduce earthworms, I have another post on the usefulness of earthworms in snail pens and how to introduce them to your snailery. Here is the best way to prepare your soils for the snail pen
Get enough dry leaves, preferably from banana or plantain, place in a bowl and pour hot water on it, cover for 20 to 30 minutes, after which you allow it to cool off before covering your Snails with it.
This process helps to get rid of harmful microorganisms and other insects and eggs within the dry leaves.
This information is only for intensive snail farmers as we don’t treat the soil in an extensive system…
How to feed your snails
Feeding plays a significant role in the life of every animal. Land snails are a large group of pulmonates belonging to the class Gastropoda of the phylum Mollusca. Like other nocturnal animals, snails are mostly active during the night, i.e. to say their reproduction, feeding, and other behavioral activities are at their peak at night.
Time of feeding has a significant effect on the growth of land snails and some other fauna resources. Land snails are nocturnal animals, so photoperiods have a significant regulatory role on invertebrates.
Which have been exploited to adapt to life on land like the vertebrae species. Snails feed at night and dusk when there is rain or if the sky is overcast, subsisting on both fresh and decomposing plant materials.
Snails feed usually at night and their most preferred diets include; unripe pawpaw fruits, chaff from fermented milled maize, they show a distinct preference for moist feed such as snail feed, powdered shells which are moistened with water before being offered to them.
Feeding activity in snails depends on the weather because they prefer juicy fruits, leaves, and vegetables to dry ones. In most Snail farms, they are usually fed at different times depending on the preferred time of the Farmer.
The habit or behavior of snails feeding at night is adaptive in nature as it protects snails from dehydration and possible predators that are usually available during the day.
Presenting feed to Snails at night enhances their feed intake and growth, more so, Snails fed at night consume more feed than snails fed in the morning as the feed is still fresh and attractive to the snails. Also, snails fed at 6 pm and 8 pm have more nutrient intake than snails fed at other times, this is because they eat more feed as they are fed at their preferred time.
Now it must be noted that snail feed is grounded in the different classes of feed that are required for Snails. it is not wise to have your snails fed with only one or two particular classes of feed, there must be a ratio of feed that presents the different classes of feed to your snails
Feeds and Sources of Snail Foods
Feeding activity for snails depends on the weather, and snails may not necessarily eat every day.
Wet seasons or irrigation encourage feeding since the moisture makes it easier for the snails to move about.
Snails are nocturnal animals. This means that they are primarily active at night, they look for food during the night or in the very early morning hours. When looking for food, they use their powerful sense of smell.
Snails are vegetarian and they can eat a wide variety of foods: vegetables, fungi, tubers, algae, and fruits form part of the essential food for snails.
Young snails can eat about twice as much feed as mature snails, and they prefer soft leaves and shoots.
How does snails feed?.
The mouth of terrestrial snails is unknown to most people. Have you ever wondered how they eat? These mollusks have an organ in the mouth with rows of tiny teeth, sometimes compared with a tongue, fully functional at the time of eating.
The radula is this structure inside the snail’s mouth that has rows of chitin teeth. When the food reaches this structure that looks like a sac, the teeth do not cut or grind it as human teeth would. Instead of being chewed, the radula scrapes the food and breaks it, before it passes through the esophagus to continue the digestion process.
These tiny teeth suffer much wear and tear as time passes. Therefore, they are continually replaced by others. Not all species have the same number of teeth. Some have rows with a few, but in others the number reaches hundreds.
FAST GROWTH. carbohydrates for energy, and they also need protein for growth.
Snails require a large number of calcium deposits in their environment for their shells, as well as other minerals and vitamins.
Here is the list of food you can feed your Snails with.
vii. Paw-paw. (Both leaves and fruits)
viii. Sweet Potatoes leaves
ix. Neem leaves
x. Water lettuce
Paw-paw leaves, fruit, flower, and fruit peels stand out as essential food for snails.
c. Yam & Peels
d. Sweet potato and
Tubers are a good source of carbohydrates, though low in protein cassava must be of a very low cyanide content.
I will advise you didn’t feed “tubers” to your snails as the starch they contain neutralizes snail slime, therefore paralyzing them, as you know a paralyzed snail is a dead snail.
Fruits are rich sources of minerals and vitamins but are low in protein.
If you’re practicing an extensive system (greenhouse) you must be careful of oil palm fruit as it attracts soldier ants to the farm.
⦁ paw-paw, and
non-chlorinated water. Place a shallow dish filled with spring water for your snail to drink. Replace the water every 1-2 days.
Ensure you do not supply chlorinated water because chlorine is harmful to snails. Never give snails chlorinated water, Some water sources like tap water may contain chlorine that’s harmful to snails.
If you don’t have access to non-chlorinated water, you can leave tap water out in the sun for 48 hours to remove chemicals.
Use a shallow dish to supply water to the snails to prevent them from drowning.
Snails need calcium supplements for their shells, Snails must have an abundant supply of calcium for shell formation, egg formation, and repair of their shells.
Always keep a source of calcium close.
SOURCE OF CALCIUM
Oyster shell calcium
bone meal and
Causes of High Mortality in Snails
Snails have many enemies. These include termites, soldier ants, frogs, toads, rats, snail-eating birds, lizards, and larvae of some beetles. Common salt is also poisonous to Snails. Overcrowding is a serious cause of mortality in snail pens. When too many Snails are crowded in a pen, they produce undesirable secretions which are observed to reduce their productivity. To remedy these;
- Examine the pen fence regularly and mend and openings
- Use materials that keep out pests from your fence.
- Maintain the right stocking density in your pen
- Keep away poisonous chemicals like common salt.
These are what to do when ants invade your snailery without panic, use of chemicals, or spending money.
A simple process with the benefit of affordability, safety, and time-saving is to
Remove the snail and wash them in water to free them from any attacking predator
Be careful while you do this so you don’t break their shell at the hedge or drown them in water.
Don’t commit the mistake of dropping them in water or keeping them there to get rid of the ants
Wash them one after the other.
Search and remove all discoverable eggs as much as you find. Keep according to hatchling procedures.
Boil water to a boiling point and generously apply the hot water on the sides of the pen. The water will travel downward to kill all the ants and their eggs. Do this repeatedly when you notice their presence, not until they attack. You will soon set the area free of their invention, take the war to their colony as you sight or suspect them.
Snail Farming is a crazy fun area you should venture into because the demand is very high and its highly untapped, besides there are various areas you can focus on in snail business, you may decide to based on hatching segment or fattening of growers to point of lay which takes about 4-6 months
It might seem like a long time right? How about you buy growers snail which is in the 3 months stage up, fatten it to next 3-4 months, it will reach to a point of lay, then you can sell it 250- 300 something you bought about 70-100 naira each,
Imagine if you have gotten about 3000 pieces of this it will be
N250 (average) x 3000 = N750,000
Removing the cost of acquiring them
N750,000 – N300,000 = N450,000 in 3 months time
Any business which can give you such return on investment within 3 months is very lucrative, even poultry can not give you that with N300,000k
Before you ask me about other costs, you can actually feed your snails on vegetables and other household waste such as the back of watermelon, yam/potato peels, maize & Soybean waste, even if you wished to use formulated feed you will not waste more than 50k to raise them if you intermix the feed with vegetables, fruits, waste and compounded feeds, In my other post, I have shared exhaustively on:
- How to construct your snail house yourself
- How to enrich the soil substrate
- How to fabricate snail, automatic water drinker
- How to hatch your snail eggs
- How to take care of snail hatchlings
- How to fatten your snail to jumbo size or table size
- How to Boost your snail egg-laying abilities
In Case you need to construct a snail farm or buy a good point of lay (POL) snails, ( snails on the verge of laying eggs) AMO, AMS, AF, AA, I have made a human-verified directory with legible snail farmers across the state, so feel free to reach out to any, If you have experience or have snails to sale, you can submit your information here, after we verify you by checking out few things your information will be listed on our platform for buyers to connect with you
After reading this, do you still have more questions? Use the comment box, I will try to answer as quickly as I can,
Hi, I am Joshua Nwankwo, The CEO of Startup Ng and the founder of Afripals Interactive, Well I am a Civil Servant in Day time, a farmer at noontime and a Blogger in the evening.
My passion for being free from Government paychecks and also helping my fellow young people to be self-empowered is why I run this blog
An Animal Scientist by Profession and a blogger by passion, you can always reach me on my contact page for help or support