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Raising Snails for Food or Pets

Updated on June 11, 2010

In some European countries, snails (in the form of escargot) are considered a delicacy, and there is a small market for them in the United States and other countries as well.

Edible snails can be sold live, steamed, canned, and more. Some escargot producers also sell specialty butters and other products to enjoy with their snails.

Snails can also be raised as bait or food for certain exotic pets such as puffer fish. Some species, especially aquatic snails, are kept as pets themselves.

Photo by ellhoisa
Photo by ellhoisa

Common Snail Species

Helix pomatia, which is known variously as the apple snail, Roman snail, Burgundy snail, or simply escargot, is a large European terrestrial snail that is one of the most popular edible snails.

Helix aspersa, also known as the brown garden snail or petit gris, is native to Europe and is another common type of edible snail. However, it is also considered to be an agricultural pest, and is estimated to be responsible for $7-10 million worth of damages every year in California alone.

Viviparis malleatus, also known as Japanese trapdoor snails, are edible by humans, but are most popular as pets for aquariums and ponds due to their excellent algae control capabilities.

Planorbidae species, also known as ramshorn snails, are a group of popular freshwater aquarium snails.

Pomacea bridgesii, or golden apple snail, is a lovely bottom feeding snail commonly kept as an aquarium pet.

Edible Snail Farming

The technical term for edible snail farming is “heliciculture.”

Snails are commonly raised in outdoor pens, generally long, narrow rectangles to allow the farmer to easily reach inside without having to step in. The pens must have sheltered hiding places for daytime, and good soil to burrow in. I many regions, a sprinkler system is useful to help control moisture levels. Terrestrial snails require a damp, but not wet, environment.

Outdoor snail farming is best in regions with relatively mild climates and high humidity. In unsuitable climates, snails can be raised indoors or in special greenhouses.

Raising Aquatic Snails

Many aquatic snails will breed readily on their own. One exception is golden apple snails, which are not hermaphrodites and require both male and female individuals to breed.

Legal Issues

It is illegal to import certain species of snails into the United States, and production of some other non-native species may be carefully monitored, since many edible snails are considered agricultural pests. In particular, the edible Giant African Snail (Achatina fulica) is illegal to import or own in the United States.


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    • profile image

      WWW.SnailsInTheMail.US 4 years ago

      We offer Helix aspersa / Helix pomatia for all of the United States


    • profile image

      joe 6 years ago

      I'm going out tomorrow to get me a taste of the Japanese aquarium snail as it has been released in a local, clean spring feed lake in Michigan.

    • profile image

      Allyssa 7 years ago

      I'd love it if the pet section could be expanded! I actually have seven snails that I'm caring for now, and a lot of the tips I find are for snails along the Achatininae line. Mine are all helix aspersa. Otherwise, nice hub. :]

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 7 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Good hub, good topic. I guess since they were an agricultural pest, at some point somebody thought, "Hey, if I can't eat my garden plants, I'll eat the snails!"

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I have learned something else here and thank you for writing such an interesting hub.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

      Found the hub really interesting. The best Escargot I have ever had was in Lake Tahoe about 4 years ago. Garlic and butter sauce, fresh made bread and a nice wine. What a great meal.

      Was not aware about the threat that some species cause to local agricultural health.

      Thank you for bringing an unusual topic to hub pages!

      ~always choose love~

    • reddog1027 profile image

      reddog1027 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hmmm, this hub was food for thought but I think I will pass on raising my own snails unless it is in my aquarium.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting Hub. I love escargot but really have no intention of keeping them myself! This is best left to the experts, I think!

      Love and peace


    • torimari profile image

      torimari 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I'm not much of a fan of Escargot, but this was an interesting read about the basics of farming them. I'd expand the pet area more since your title and intro talks about owning them as pets. Also, the image looks broken for me so you know. Nice hub!:)