Why Did Snail Farming Fail In Asia?

Snail farming was first introduced into Asia in 1980 to provide a good source of protein for consumption and to improve their economy by exporting these snails to high-income countries. Unfortunately, this did not go as planned.

So, why did snail farming fail in Asia? Snail farming failed in Asia because snails were destroying the growing rice crops which caused them severe economic consequences as rice farms were considered their major source of food and farm income. 

The invasion caused Asia a lot of loss and expenses as they tried controlling the activity of these snails and replanting their dead rice crops. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Concerning this snail farming failure in Asia, there are still some more challenges, asides from the destruction of the rice farm that might have caused this failure of snail farming in Asia, unlike the possibility of success in other counties such as the USAOpens in a new tab. and CanadaOpens in a new tab.. Let’s talk more about them.

You will also be interested in learning more about slugs, which are very similar yet still different from snails in What is the Difference Between Slugs and Snails?Opens in a new tab. .

Challenges that have contributed to snails farming failure in Asia

Use of Agrochemicals

Asia being an agricultural continent, farmers frequently use agricultural chemicals ranging from weed killers, pesticides, fungicides, among other chemicals, to control or eliminate pests and improve crop production. This changes the soil PH value adversely, making the soil very acidic and uninhabitable for the snails.

Human Activities

Human activities such as bush burning and deforestation are common in India, which poses a big threat to the extinction of snails. The burning of bushes disposes of the snails of their settlement, exposing them including their eggs to harsh conditions such as sunlight overexposure and other unsuitable factors.

The destruction of their habitat destroyed by bush burning and deforestation, causes them to go into extinction. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)


Most snail species thrive well in cool and moist atmospheres like rainy seasons. They prefer 70-90% relative humidity, which boosts their activeness. Northern parts of Asia are known to experience prolonged periods of dry and hot air, leading to the massive death of snails. This means that you have to use a lot of water to achieve snails farming as a measure to keep favorable humidity during hot periods.

Diseases and parasites

Parasites and diseases range from fungi diseases (Fusarium SSP), bacterial diseases (pseudomonas Arueginosa), and parasites (fasciolosis, schistosomiasis, etc.) pose a great challenge to snail farming. These diseases are not visible to human eyes, hence can only be detected through scientific observation tools, which are not readily available to farmers.

Bacteria cause intestinal dysfunction, hindering the growth of snails. Fungi cause the snail’s eggs to die untimely, hindering reproduction.

Some noticeable symptoms include:

  • Loss of tentacles
  • Loss of natural colors
  • Thinning shells
  • Inactivity of snails
  • Loss of reproduction
  • Climatic Factors

The existence, reproduction, growth, and survival of snails depend on climatic conditions. This has greatly affected snail farming in Asia, as the climatic condition is not favorable for them to thrive. Favorable climatic conditions include:

  • Constant low temperatures
  • Relatively high humidity
  • Constantly rainy season

In the absence of these suitable natural conditions, snail farmers can deploy artificial means of regulating climatic conditions. However, this comes at a cost that may very expensive, especially in dry climatic regions like Asia.


Predators pose a dangerous hurdle to snail farming. The fact that snails are very fragile and slow in movement makes them vulnerable and easy targets for their predators.

Snails predators include rodents, man, insects, crustaceans, snakes, among other predators. 

Types of snails in Asia

Most snails kept in Asia are aquatic freshwater snails. The following are some of the most common types of snails found in the Asian Continent.

Assassin Snails (Clea helena)

These snails are useful in eliminating pest snails in the aquarium by feeding on them. They help in controlling the snail population since they feed on other snails since they are carnivores. Assassin snails are mostly found in Southern Asia.

Assassin snails are said to be feeding on dwarf shrimp when given an opportunity. Therefore, you should be careful when keeping them with dwarf shrimp.

You need not worry about keeping these aquatic creatures together with live plants and fish since they mostly feed on other snails. However, assassin snails will not feed on their species, irrespective of whether they are starved of their food source. (SourceOpens in a new tab.).

Tip: You can read more about other actuating snails such as the Apple Snail, which is harmful to crops in Apple Snails Good or Bad? All You Need to Know About Apple SnailsOpens in a new tab..

Rabbit Snails (Tylomelania)

These are unique freshwater snails common among aquarium hobbyists due to their rabbit-like face, unique color, and big size. Unlike most snails with viscous and sift skin, rabbit snails have wrinkled and rough skin, hence the origin of the ‘elephant’ snail nickname.

Rabbit snails are native to Sulawesi, Indonesia. They mostly feed on detritus, dead plants, algae, and other matters that settle at the bottom of the water tank. They greatly help with the water tank clean-up. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Asian Tramp snail (Bradybaena similaris)

Although we said earlier that most snails in Asia are freshwater snails, these Asian tramp snails are invasive land snail species native to Southern Asia that have been accidentally introduced to many parts of the world. It earned the name based on its habit of settling on freight containers and their origin.

Its shell measures approximately 12-16 mm width, sculptured with fine spiral striae and fine asymmetrical growth lines. They create and use love darts when mating and have a lifespan of 2-3 years.

Snail acceptance in Asia (as food/ pets)

Not all snails species are edible, and some snails are too small to prepare for consumption. The edible species include Helix pomatia, Cornu aspersa, Helix lucorum popular in France, and Elona quimperiana popular in Europe. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Snails’ acceptance in Asia has been very slow due to their invasive nature especially the Giant African Snail. They multiply very fast in large numbers, and they can consume almost all plant species and cause damage to stucco and plaster buildings. For these reasons, keeping these snails as pets in Asia is strictly prohibited.

The giant African snailOpens in a new tab. is one of the most destructive snails across the globe. Their invasive nature and their potential risk to human health make accepting this species of snail in Asian countries like India an uphill task.

Based on an article that discussed the impact of introduced snails to Indonesia (sourceOpens in a new tab.), a good method to control these invasive snails is to get rid of any form of plant matter that might represent a source of food. Also, you could handpick these snails or use chemical agents to limit their spread.

With these control methods in place, an increase in the market value of these snails is expected.

Historically and culturally, terrestrial snails are not accepted as food in Asia. However, freshwater snails and sea snails are all accepted as food and a good source of protein in South, East, and Southeast Asia.

The farmed freshwater snail species are such as Pomacea canaliculata (Ampullariidae) are considered edible as a good source of protein in most parts of the globe including Southeast Asia, Korea, and China.

Find out more about eating snails, their nutritional value, and how to properly prepare these edible snails in this article here – Snails as food!

Is snail farming profitable in Asia?

Snail farming is a profitable low-risk business venture with great potential for growth in the future. Snail’s death rate is very low so long as you keep them in good, favorable condition. Snails farming also involves less expenditure on feeding, since they eat less and can hibernate for longer periods without getting out in search of food.

Snail farming is a win-win business if you are passionate about it. Do you have thoughts about starting your snail farm, you should check out this article – 6 things you’ve to know before starting a snail farm.Opens in a new tab.

So, Can snail farming be profitable in Asia? Snail farming can be profitable in Asia if it is done in a controlled environment and by creating an export plan for snails.

Final Thoughts

Accepting snail farming in Asia hasn’t been so easy, considering the failure that occurred in 1980 when they first introduced snail farming. The snails destroyed their rice crops which caused a major decline in their economy.
Asides from the destruction of the rice farm, there are still some more challenges Asians face with snail farming.

They include; use of harmful agrochemicals, predators, humidity, diseases, and parasites. Also, note that the snails commonly found in Asia are aquatic freshwater snails such as the Rabbit snail.

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