Just before you dive into that snail farming business, you should know what to and how to feed snails. Yes, you should know what snails eat and drink too.
It is wise to educate yourself on this before you venture into this agribusiness, else you’re in for losses, and that would not be funny.
In this resource, I will try as much as I can to break down every knowledge you need on what to serve your snails as food, what they can drink or should drink and how to serve them.
So, just hang on and keep reading…
Let me begin by saying that snails can consume several kinds of food, not just that, they are also easy to feed.
Inasmuch as there are few variations among snails of different species in terms of foods they can eat and how they eat them, we will only focus on the feeding of land snails specifically those produced in commercial volume such as the Giant African Land snail — Achatina achatina, Achatina marginata and Achatina fulica.
First and foremost, lets look at how land snails consume their food.
How Does A snail Eat?
Well, it’s important to note that the feeding activities for snails actually lies on the weather.
And for the records, snails don’t have to eat every day just like we human beings do.
Again, an irrigation or rather wet season aids feeding as the moisture enables snails to easily move about or change position.
As we see them, Snails are basically active at night (and that’s why they are referred to as nocturnal animals).
What Do Snails Do At Night?
I know you may be curious to ask.
Snails actually search for food using their powerful sense of smell during the night whereas some do so in the very early hours of the morning.
Additionally, Snails are vegetarian with the ability to consume a wide variety of foods like tubers, fruits, vegetables, fungi, and algae.
Did you know that young snails have the ability to eat about twice as much food as their mature counterpart? Yes they do, with preference to soft shoots and leaves.
However, in terms of feeding on solid feeds, snails do that by cutting or scraping it away through the aid of their radula –a part of snail anatomy with the function of chewing feed just before it moves to the oesophagus.
Surprisingly, Snails lack teeth, however, they do have several specialized food processing organs.
Snails eat with the aid of a radula –a rasping, tongue-like organ that is enclosed with numerous tiny tooth-like protrusions referred to as denticles.
Which Food Fastens The Growth Of Snails?
Naturally, Snails require carbohydrates for energy, and protein mainly for growth.
Furthermore, snails desire deposits of huge quantity of calcium (Ca) in their surroundings for their shells.
And yes, minerals and vitamins are needed too.
Generally, you can feed snails these food and watch them grow bigger;
1. Snails Enjoy Eating Leaves and vegetables
If snails were wild animals, I would have said that they could kill for leaves, especially the leaves from cocoyam, Kola, Apple, Eggplant, Mushroom, Broccoli, Spinach, Cassava, Okra, Onion greens, Celery, Loofah, Parsley, Carrot, Turnip, Barley, Cabbage, Chamomile, Paw-paw and Beans.
Amongst these leaves, the Paw-paw leaves including its flower, fruit, and fruit peels are said to be the most essential feed for snails.
2. They Don’t Joke With Soft Fleshy Fruits
As you know, fruits having low source of protein are quite rich in vitamins and minerals.
They following fruits are snails’ favourite – we have the green beans, mango, Aubergine, eggplant, paw-paw, artichoke, banana, apricot, tomato, pear, oil palm, peach, fig, orange, watermelon, ripe cherries, cucumbers and pumpkins.
3. Calcium Supplements Required For Snail Shells
In order to build or/and repair their shell, Snails must be feed calcium, not just that, but in sufficient proportion.
Therefore, to easily achieve this, you must often store up and make available at all times a source of calcium nearby your snail housing.
The following are good sources of calcium for your snails;
- Natural limestone
- Calcium powder
- Wood ash
- Shells from dead snails
- Bone meal
4. Tuber Crops and Edible Flowers
By tuber crops I mean Yam, Cocoyam, Sweet potato, Plantain and Cassava.
Just so you know, tuber crops are low in protein and rich in carbohydrates with Cassava having a very low cyanide content.
On the other hand, sunflower, hibiscus, rose, cauliflower and paw-paw are edible flowers for snail.
5. Non-chlorinated Water
Yes, your Snails should only drink non-chlorinated water, as chlorinated water (because of its chlorine content) is quite harmful to them.
So, you should often provide a shallow dish full of spring water for your snail to bathe and drink from.
Please, there’s need to replace the water every 1 to 2 days, for healthy living.
6. Essential and Formulated Foods
Are you aware that few household wastes such as banana, watermelon, peels of fruit and tuber, plantain, yam, damaged fruits, even cooked foods for instance; beans, potato, carrot and rice are essential foods for snails.
Avoid salty (contain salt) household waste foods.
- In terms of nutritional value, raw food are better than processed or cooked food.
- You can serve your snails specially formulated snail feed or meshed chicken feed.
Formulating feeds for your snails comprises the combination of primary ingredients like soya bean, maize, bean and groundnut.
Note, the ingredients mentioned must be combined at various proportions so as to meet accuracy and standard for feeding snails.
Why Should I Feed My Snail With Formulated Feeds?
You should do that because;
- Formulated feeds are durable and easy to store compared to the likes of fruits and vegetables
- They aid in the improvement of snail performance
- Formulated snail feeds provides specific nutritional demands of snails
- Saves time and energy
What Should I Consider During Snail Feed Formulation?
The following are things you must consider before formulating feeds for snails;
- First, determining the reproductive and health states of the snail
- Determination of each ingredient
- Be sure of the availability and sufficiency of the feed ingredient
- Identify the nutrient requirements of the snail
Careful Practices And Guidelines For Snail Feed Formulation
When formulating snail feeds, you must carefully Ensure the following;
- No damp ingredients
- Storage of the formulated in a dry place
- Feed must be ground to powder
Foods To Never Serve Your Snails
1. Contaminated foods
Are you aware that foods treated or that have come in contact with pesticide is a potential snail killer?
Same way homegrown foods contaminated by poisonous gases such as vehicle fumes aren’t healthy for snails.
Snails do ignore plants that produce defensive toxic chemicals or those with hairy leaves.
2. Their Body Hate Starchy foods
Millet, rice and pasta are hard to digest, thereby piling and obstructing the snails’ internal digestive system, which at the end results in swelling and death of the snails.
What Are The Best Practices For Serving Snails Food?
Begin with the washing of all foods or feedstuff before offering them to your snail, as few insect larvae can hide in the food without being easily noticed.
They should also wash the snail rearing equipment used in feeding your snail at least once every 2 days to avoid breeding diseases.
More so, you should daily do away with all leftover snail food from the pens to avoid decay, as decayed food substance would drag mice, fleas, lice and rats causing disease outbreak.
Therefore, to encourage cleaniness, often put snail food on a flat dish or/and a concrete slab constructed within the snail pen.
All the dishes i.e the water and feed must be weighty because of the tendency of snails climbing and moving round it.
Due to the fact that snails are omnivorous and nocturnal in nature, they eat virtually all variety of food at night.
Naturally, snails have the ability to eat up to 4 to 6 percent of their body weight, funny enough within a day.
For you to see your snails grow large and well with high reproduction capacity, you must feed them appropriately with their desired nutrition.
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