One of the most important things to take into account in snail farming is to ensure a good diet.
The snails have a very simple diet and different techniques will allow facilitating, even more, the care related to their feeding.
So, what is the best food for snails? The best natural foods are green vegetables such as broccoli, chard, cabbage, and clover, and certain types of fruit such as strawberries, bananas, pears, apples, and even grapes. Dry food can be used as long as it is of good quality with correct calcium levels and is stored correctly.
You can ensure their well-being and avoid many types of diseases and parasites by following hygiene techniques and taking into account the nutritional contributions that snails need.
In this article, you will find some of our advice on the correct feeding of snails.
If you have a pet snail, check out Can you bond with snails? to know more about snail emotions and brain.
Snails feeding season and eating habits
Snails are nocturnal animals, so they will forage for food at night or in the early hours of the morning. During the day they will rest and be more passive, moving away from the hours when the sunlight is strongest. Snails have a very reduced view. They will use their keen sense of smell to search for food.
Their feeding will be more important before the winter months to store enough fat reserves they will need during winter hibernation.
If the snails cannot find enough food, they may hibernate during the winter or summer until the food becomes more abundant. In this way the snails do not need to search for food and their latent state will allow them to survive thanks to their fat reserves despite adverse situations.
Snails are very resilient animals capable of surviving extreme situations. However, if we want to produce snails on a farm, we will have to be very careful with their diet to ensure that they will grow healthy and that they will have all the essential nutrients.
Traditional feeding or dry food ?
Snails can be fed naturally or farmers can offer them dry prepared food. If you want to feed them naturally, the best foods are green vegetables such as broccoli, chard, cabbage, and clover.
There is a popular belief that snails should be fed lettuce. The snails love this vegetable and it is a very good food, however, only adding this food could cause deficiencies in minerals and other nutrients necessary for the proper development of the snail. Furthermore, giving them a reduced variety of vegetables can produce digestive problems.
We can also offer them certain types of fruit such as strawberries, bananas, pears, apples, and even grapes. Any vegetable you put in your salad will suit your snails perfectly!
However, be careful not to feed your snails citrus, processed cereals such as pasta, or starch that is present in rice. These foods can be very harmful and can kill your snails. Also, never give them foods that contain salt or sugar.
One of the most important nutrients is calcium. Snails use it to create and repair their shell. They can extract it from minerals such as gypsum or limestone.
They also find it in bone dust, in the eggshells, and even in the shells of other snails. Snails that lack calcium can even eat their shells, so make sure your snails get their needed dose of calcium.
If we opt for a dry food diet, our snails will have all the necessary nutrients for their optimal evolution. The ingredients present in this type of food are in ideal proportions. Also, the fact that this lunch is dry, we will have fewer problems related to humidity and fungus on our farm.
This type of food can be found in any store specializing in animals and livestock.
Always ensure that manufacturers comply with quality production standards. Make sure that the transport of the snail food has been carried out in optimal conditions and that it has not come into contact with dangerous products. Monitor the feed when you buy it and keep track of the product’s expiry dates.
In both cases, we can offer containers with water to our snails to ensure their good hydration, although it is not necessary because the snails absorb water through their skin or thanks to the vegetables they eat.
Keeping a hygienic space where your snails eat is essential for avoiding diseases and parasites.
How does food affect their growth and reproduction?
One of the most important body parts for snails is the shell. Snails are born with a very fragile and flexible shell. Over time the shell hardens and grows.
The mantle is the organ that makes the substances necessary to build and strengthen the shell. At a certain age, the growth of the shell stagnates and keeps the same size.
A fragile or too small shell carries a great danger for the snails since the shell is their main defense system and the organ that will allow them to perform hibernations. A diet rich in calcium will allow an adapted growth and a reduction of the risk of mortality of your snails.
An adequate nutritional intake will also allow the snails to grow healthily and thus improve their life expectancy and their resistance to disease and parasites, which will also encourage their reproduction.
Food effect on the soil and maintenance required by the farmer
Before installing your snails in their pen, it is necessary to prepare the ground where the parks and the vegetation necessary to the production will be put.
One of the first things to do is to remove all weeds and other vegetation from previous crops. It is recommended to perform this cleaning manually with your hands directly or using specific tools for this type of work.
The use of chemical products to remove this vegetation should be avoided because the snails could ingest the residues of these products from the moment we install them in the parks.
Chemicals should only be used under certain specific circumstances, and the waiting time recommended by the manufacturer should be respected before introducing your snails.
A recommended technique is solar exposure. This method is carried out between June and August when temperatures are more intense. The pathogens do not tolerate high temperatures, so with this technique, many will be eliminated. Besides, warm soil will reduce the likelihood of parasites.
The maintenance of the facilities dedicated to snails will vary greatly according to the type of food we choose. If we opt for natural food, the food must be renewed every day.
Special attention should also be paid to humidity levels on the farm and the cleanliness of rotten or spoiled food. Also, the farmer should opt for foods of natural origin and that have been treated without insecticides.
In the case of using dry powdered food, the maintenance will be reduced thanks to the decrease of humidity in the food and to the decomposition that will be much slower. However, the farmer must also control the humidity levels and the appearance of fungi on the food.
The food stock should be a cool and dry place, away from sunlight to avoid rotting, decomposing or changing some of its properties.
Avoid introducing seeds into the snail pen. Some plants can become weeds or can be harmful to your snails.
Then, think about preparing the ground before introducing the snails for any production method. Foresee and organize the manual or mechanical methods of continuous weeding you will use. Use specific footwear and clothing for this type of exploitation. This will reduce the entry of external agents into the pen.
Feeding your snails is a simple task compared to feeding other types of animals. The most important thing is to make sure that the pen is kept clean and that we comply with the hygiene standards for each type of food. Additional information can be found here too.
Snails have fairly rigid eating habits. You can take advantage of this fact by offering them seasonal fruits and vegetables if you opt for natural food, which will have multiple benefits on the health and development of your snails.
Neglecting to feed your snails or not respecting the food renewal cycles or the bases of hygiene can cause harmful effects for your snails. However, an adequate diet will ensure the welfare of your snails and thus the profitability of your farm.
There are several simple methods to feed your snails. Everyone can choose the method that suits them best as long as the snails have all the necessary nutrients.
Following the advice of care in the feeding of snails will keep your production perennial and successful. As for the rest of the living beings, good feeding is synonymous with a good and healthy life!