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Updated on November 8, 2010


          In Nigeria snails have been raised in small pens in many areas either as back yard activity to supplement household income and protein supply or as large scale commercial activity.

          The process of farming or raising snails is known as heliciculture/snail culture. Besides farming snails. Snails could also be gathered from the wild. Snails gathered in the wild to stock snail farm may have a high mortality rate as they try to adapt to new conditions. (Ebenebe 2000)


          Environment is the combination of external physical conditions that affect and influence the growth, development and survival of organisms. Snail farms can be indoors or outdoors provided environmental conditions necessary for survival prevails for optimum production of snail the following environmental factors are ideal .

(1)     Temperature: Temperature influences the activities of snails temperature above 200c will cause the snails to as stivate our hibernate in order to regulate the body fluid continual snails thrive well under ambient temperature of 200c with considerable growth rate all year round with zero chance of aestivation. Temperature and humidity 80 hand in hand and are very critical in the survival of snails.

(2)     Humidity: This factor is very critical as the snail has to maintain a constant equilibrium between the fluids. A humid environment is required for snail to remain active and bred all years round. A is therefore necessary to moisten the environment during fry periods. Humidity and water availability is very important in snail rearing and influences feeding. Snail need damp, not wet environment. During dark hours, air humidity of 80% will promote good snail actirity and growth. Though snails need water, their environment must not be water logged.

(3)     Light: Snail though generally nocturnal requires light for optimum growth. Provided the amount of light in terms of quantity and quality is very arucil in the life of snail.

Lighting can be achieved by natural and artificial means. At the level of our technological advancement natural lighting is mostly employed. Light essentially is necessary for some biological processes such as photosynthesis take place which is very vital in energy cycle food chain intensive snail rearingsurcely involves artificial lighting system to prompt the snail into their natural reproductive cycle. Three environment factors (daylight hours, temperature and humidity influence the reproductive cycle of snails. As a result of the sophisticated nature expensive for small scale farmers. (yusuf 2002)

4.       Soil: Soil is a medium for reproduction of snails good management practice involves selection and mixture of soil. It should be recalled that soil harbour a lot of pests predators and soil should diseases. It becomes necessary that soil farm be properly analyzed before use in snail activities and development. It mixture of sand and clay in good proportion retains water and therefore is not suitable on the other hand clay during the rains is water logged and cakes up during the dry period too hard for the snails to burrow through. Loamy soil is recommended as it contains enough organic matter with good retentive capacity. Acidic soil should be avoided. If it can not be avoided liming is encouraged in such situation. Periodic application of calcium is also encouraged where and when it is absent. The soil should not contain harmful salts or be so alkaline so as net to burn the snails (Akinuvsi 2000).

2.5     HOVESING

          Snails are known to escape from enclosures that are not properly protected or covered. It therefore becomes imperative that snail houses should be protected to prevent the snails from escaping and predator free.

          The housing for raising snails varies with the purpose, however it could be made of wooden materials wire mesh or even local materials whether outdoor or indoor. Depending on the size of the farm cages or hutch boxes trench, pens used types local baskets movable pens mini paddock and free or gaps big enough for the snails to escape. The cage should not be exposed to direct sunlight as this can raise the temperature of the enclosed container to injurious levels, however they should be exposed to normal day night cycle (Akinnusi, 2000).

          Where cages 1 boxes are used the cover should be meshed to aid spraying of water without having to open the box. No matter the type of housing the habit of snails must be taken into shade is snails like hiding places and as such shade is very important. When snails are raised indoors under controlled environment all the environmental factor favouring production must be provided.

          The housing must be provided with devices for measuring humidity (hygrometer), temperature (thermometer) soil, moisture and light (in foot candles) weighing balance soil testing kit magnifying glass and watering cans. There are three main housing system for rearing snail namely. (1) Extensive system (2) Semi intensive system and (3) Intensive system.

Extensive system: this type of system is essentially practical in the open parks/gardens. The snail are reared in their natural habitat except that choice plants are planted and park or harden fenced to avoid ascapes.

Intensive: As the name implies the system requires a high capital investment, with modification of the environment to simulate what happens naturally during the peak period to ensure optimum reproduction and growth. This system ensures all year production of snails and regular supply on demand.

Semi intensive system: This system combines both outdoor and indoor practices. The reproductive and nursery stages are raised indoors while the growing period are outdoors. This system enable the farmer to grow and produce snails all year round making of available to the numerous consumers.


          Reproduction: Sexual maturity in snail is attained after six months and snails can live as long as 5-10 years. Snails is a hermaphrodite containing both male and female sex organs however self fertilization is not common.

          Each snails has two sets of set organs; one with a penis testes and sperm and the other with ovaries eggs and oviduct and a pouch or receptacle for staring sperm of another snail. Snails copulate in pairs exchanging spermatophore before separating. Both snails lay eggs two to three weeks after mating.

          Achatina: Achatina is highly prolific being able to lay between 100 to 400 eggs in a single batch.

          During favourable condition a single snail is capable of laying up to three batches of eggs in one year. Incubation period lasts between 15 to 30 days depending on the prevailing weather condition and environmental factors.

2.7     HATCHING

          It is advisable to separate the eggs after they have been laid and place them in special boxes where farvouable environmental factors are provided for incubation if the snails are to be raised under restricted environment.

          Hatchability of eggs depends on soil temperature soil humidity and composition. Hatching takes about 12-30 days and the young ones that emerge are tiny with transparent shells.

          When the eggs eclosion happens the young snails are born with a rind of 3cm and weigh about 27mg. the snails shell develops at the embryonic stage but very weak and so needs immediate supply of calcium. This it obtains from the soil for sometime feeding on egg remnant and organic materials however bady snails sometimes feeds on unhitched eggs. Newly hatched snails are tiny (2.5mm) weighing 0.035g and are best kept in small rosily manageable containers known s nursery for the first three weeks at a density of about 4000 snails per square meter (odunnaiya 1991).


          In commercial snail production after a few weeks the young snails are separated and kept in fattening boxes where they are adequately fed to encourage maximum growth.

          The nursery is a structure specifically designed for raising snails in their juvenile stage to allow for optimum growth and to provide a safe environment for he young snails when they are most vulnerable the floor of the nursery is soil based (sterilizd loamy soil) before the introduction of the juvenile snails. The treatment involves keeping the soil moist adding line if the soil is too acidic. Polyacrylamide may also be added to stabilize the soil. This treatment help the soil structure resist washing which allows regular cleaning without destroying the crumb structure of the soil which is beneficial for egg laying. Earth worms are also introduced into the soil of the nursery area to assist with aeration and drainage of the soil. The young snails are kept in the nursery for about 6 weeks after which they are moved to a separate pen alongside others of the same size and age for optimum growth.

          The nursery should be maintained at a temperature of about 2000c, relative humidity of 86% with day/night cycle of 16 years/ 8 hours (Odunnaya 1991).


          The natural enemies/predators of snails are members of many vertebrate groups ground beetles cricket, centipedes snakes toad turtles and birds rate mice moles lizard. Humans also pose very serious threaten to snails through pollution and destruction of natural habitats of snails which has had to extinction of a number of species. Annibalism among hatchings (first snails that hatch) is also common.

          These young snails gat up the shells of their eggs which give them the much needed calcium for building their own shells, after which they may begin to eat the unmatched eggs.

          Parasites nematodes, trematods fungi and arthropods may equally attack snails. Such problems occur as a result of over crowding pseudomonas aeruginosa causes intestinal infections that can spread rapidly in over crowded pens.

          Fungi can pose serious problem in snail farm where it attacks egg clutches preventing them from hatching.

          Control is not difficult in semi intensive and intensive systems once there is faction of fungi the eggs can not be redeemed all that could be done is burn and dispose the soil where the eggs are laid (Akinnusi 2000)



The study Area the project work was carried out in Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State. Okigwe is the second to the largest Local Government Area in ImoState of Nigeria. It is Located in the tropical zone Iying between latitude 4.45N and 7.15N of the equator and longitudes 60 E and 7025E of the Greenwich meridian. The mean daily maximum temperature of 200c is experienced in August when there is dense cloud cover. An annual rain fall of 1500mm- 2,200mm is experienced. (Source ).

          Okigwe Local Government consist of three zone name these zones. According to 2006 census population of 132, 237 peoples was recorded in the study area out of which 69.644 were male and 63.005 were female (NPC. 2006).

          The major occupation of the people in the study area is trading. Crops such as maize, cassava, vegetables etc are grown there, while livestock such as sheep goat, local poultry (chicken and ducks) swine and micro- livestock (snails, honey bees and rabbits) are raised in the area.


The population of the study is the snail farmers in the study area. A multistage random sampling procedure was used to select the respondents. In the first stage the area was stratified into four strata. In the second stage a communities was randomly selected from each stratum. The last involves random selection of fifteen respondents from each community making a total of sixty snail farmers. The information collected was subjected to reliability test and due to farmers not welling to supply information needed and inconsistency; the respondents were reduced to 53.


          The data in this research work are mainly primary data that are obtained by conducting interviews through well structured questionnaire that covered information on the socio-economic characteristics of snail farmers in the study area; the management practices employed in snail production, the cost incurred on and return accrued to snail production factors affecting snail production, problems encountered in snail farming, possible solutions for the problem and likely areas of improvement in snail productivity in the study area.


          The analytical techniques employed include descriptive statistics. Budgetary techniques and stepwise regression analysis. Descriptive statistics such as frequency counts, percentage and mean was used to measure socio- economics characteristics of the respondents.

          Budgetary techniques were used to determine the gross margin and net farm income obtained from snail production in the study.

          GM = TR – TVC

          NF = GM – TFC

Profit = TR – TC

Where GM = Gross margin

          TR = total revenue

TVC = Total variable cost

NFI = Net farm income

TFC = Total fixed cost

TC = Total cost

Mean was used to compute the cost of the various input such as cost of land, feeds, equipment and labour employed, cost of water and cost of hatchling used in the production process.

          All equipment used were depreciated using straight line method of depreciation order to guide against over valuation of the cost incurred in each production year.

          Profitability ratio analysis such as Benefit cost Ratio (BCR). Gross Revenue Ratio (GRR), Expense structure Ratio (ESR) and rate of Returns (ROR) was used to measure the profitability of the snail farm and also to ascertain that snail production is a worthwhile venture.

          Stepwise regression analysis was used to analyze the relationship between the profit made by the snail farmers (N) and the input used in snail production.

          The functional form used was cobb. Douglas production function. The model for the regression analysis is given below:

          Y = F (X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, U)


Y = Profit made by snail farmers (N)

X1 = level of education (years)

X2 = years of experience

X3 = cost of Equipment (N)

X4 = cost of feed (N)  

X5= family labour (man days)

X6 = farm size (acre)

U = Error term.

Eat snails and look healthy everyday

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      John Ellis 11 months ago

      Very interesting information. I live in Thailand - Bangkok, and have recently started a snail farm - raising Hemiplecta distincta snails - acquired from the northeast of the country. All went well at first but then they started dying off ... as I didn't realize how important humidity was; also soil type. Over 3-4 weeks I corrected this but my stock had depleted by about 70%. The lesson - if you are starting to raise snails is to start small - learn from your mistakes, make records, and experiment. Think of how snails live in the forest - what's their environment - and try to match it. Best of luck.

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      sunmonu olawale 4 years ago

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