Did you just find some snails in your garden and you are thinking of the perfect snail housing for the snails?
Probably you want to go into snail farming and you need to know how to construct a snail farm.
You are welcome to continue reading this article.
The type of snail housing is usually the first thing that comes to every farmer’s mind when going into snail farming business.
I understand you also have to consider the necessary food for snails.
But, you also need to keep your snails safe from harm, disease attacks and theft.
But the question is, “what kind of snail house should you construct for your snails?”
In this post, you will find amazing snail housing structures for both subsistence and commercial snail farming.
I have also added a step by step guide on how to make a snail house for pet snails.
You will also find my recommendations for cheap materials you can use to make all types of snail house.
Still ahead is a video of a snail farm that will give you a clear picture of what a snail house looks like in reality.
Before we start listing the types of the snail housing system in this post, this next paragraph is worthy of note.
You should know that the type and dimension of your snail housing depend largely on the snail growing system you choose.
It also depends on the number of snails you intend to produce on your snail farm.
In addition, the age of snail, temperature, location, weather conditions, and flooding vulnerability of your snail farm, are all factors you must consider.
A snail house can also be called a snailery, snail pen, snail habitat or snail housing.
Whichever one you see as you read this article, just know that it means the same thing.
To make your navigation through this snail farming guide very easy, I have added a table of content below.
Table of Contents
- Types of Snail Housing System
- Video of a snail house construction in Nigeria
- Characteristics of a Good Snail Habitat
- Materials Needed for Constructing Different Snail Pens
- How to Make a Snail Habitat for Pet Snails.
- How to Construct Different Snail Houses
Types of Snail Housing System
A lot has been said about the benefits of snail farming business.
More especially because it requires very little startup capital.
However, as management activities and level of financial inputs differ from one farmer to another, so also does the snail housing type differ.
This further affects the capital one needs to start up a snail farming business and the capacity to operate.
Snail housing system can be classified into three categories; intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive.
Intensive snail housing system
This system of snail housing tries to recreate the natural habitat of snails.
Plastic tunnel houses, greenhouses, free-range snail pens and buildings with controlled climate fall under this category.
This system is usually practised by farmers who do snail farming business on a large scale and occupy large expanse of land.
Mixed, or semi-intensive snail housing system
In this system, egg-laying and hatching occur in a controlled environment.
The young snails are removed after 6-8 weeks to outside snail house for further development and growth.
Extensive snail housing system
Practised mostly by small scale farmers and subsistence farmers (mainly for consumption).
Snail farming in this system is done using relatively cheap and readily available materials like old car tyres, baskets, old tanks or drums, pots, etc.
Video of a snail house construction in Nigeria
Characteristics of a Good Snail Habitat
- Your snail housing must have enough space for your snails to graze freely. Overcrowding your snailery impedes the development of snails and therefore should be avoided. A well-spaced snail housing reduces the risk of disease outbreak caused by overcrowding.
- A good snail housing should be able to protect snails against predators, poachers, and insect infestation. predators feed on young snails whereas poachers steal snails. As for insects, they lay their eggs on the snails: these eggs develop to the larvae stage, and then feed on the snails from inside their shells, thereby causing high snail mortality leading to loss of investment.
- It must be easily accessible for carrying out management activities. Snail housing should be built in such a way that will enable managers to handle snails, place feed, carry out cleaning activities and other tasks.
- The snail housing must prevent snails from escaping. No matter how slow snails can be, they can still wander off through open spaces and invade your house or garden. Therefore, all possible snail escape routes should be tightly closed.
- A snail housing must be well ventilated and provided with adequate shade.
- An adequate snail housing must be able to protect the snails from excessive wind. Wind increases the rate of moisture loss in snail which in turn, leads to dryness for the animal. Planting (fruit) trees around snail pens will help to reduce wind speed and improve the micro-climate. It will also protect the snails from the scorching sun or torrential rain.
- A good snail house must have all the necessary equipment for snail farming.
Materials Needed for Constructing Different Snail Pens
Depending on price and availability, you will need the following snail housing materials;
- Storage containers
- Concrete blocks or bricks
- Polythene sheets
- Galvanized sheets
- Mosquito nets or nylon mesh
- Chicken wire.
Decay and termite resistant timber play an important role in the construction of snail housing.
In West Africa, favourable tree species that produce such timber include opepe, iroko, and mahogany.
Disposable materials like car tyres, baskets, oil drums, and old water tanks are also good materials for constructing a snail house.
How to Make a Snail Habitat for Pet Snails.
Okay, if you are just looking for a way to build a snail house for your pet snails, then this is for you.
You don’t need to spend so much to build a snail habitat for pet snails.
After all, they are just pets, and will not take up so much space like those keeping snails commercially.
You can use simple and affordable materials for making the snail house.
A good material to use in this case is the storage container.
Below is the step by step process of building a snail house for pets.
You can decide to build this snail house indoors for decoration.
Steps in Building a Snail House for Pet Snails
- Buy a clear storage container from the store.
- Make sure it’s large enough to contain all of your snails.
- Next, drill plenty of air holes in the lid of the snail habitat so that the snails can breathe.
- If you don’t have a drill, you can use a sharp object to punch the holes. A nail will do the job very fine.
- Make sure the holes are small enough so that the snails do not escape.
- At the same time, the holes should be big enough so that the snails have plenty of air.
- After drilling, rinse the storage container with warm water and dry it thoroughly.
You should be proud of yourself, you are almost done producing your own snail habitat.
- Now, add a layer of dirt in the bottom of the habitat.
- Make sure you treat the dirt by heating it before putting it in the snail habitat.
- Next, put in some eggshells in the snail house to supply calcium necessary for healthy snail growth and proper shell formation.
- You can also add sticks, rocks or plastics to beautify the snail habitat.
- Finally, add your pet snails to the snailery. Voila
- The snail house will look just like the one in the image below.
I hope the steps are not very hard to understand and implement?
Next, we will be looking at ways to build larger types of snail house for outdoor and commercial purposes.
Continue reading below, you are almost done.
How to Construct Different Snail Houses
1. Using Baskets
A basket is a good material for locally made snail cage.
It is used for raising hatchlings of less than three months of age or for incubation of eggs.
The major limitation in the use of the basket for raising snail is poor durability.
To make snail housing using baskets, the following procedures should be followed:
- Get a good basket and lay sack on the bottom to hold soil.
- Fill the basket with humus or loamy soil to a depth of 15-20cm.
- Put dry leaves on the soil for mulching.
- After that, cover the basket with a lid, or chicken wire mesh placed between two mosquito nets and fastened with a wooden frame, to provide protection against insects.
2. Hutch Box (Wooden Snail Cage)
A hutch box is a square or rectangular, single, or multi-chamber wooden boxes with lids, placed on wooden stands.
Hutch boxes are useful in semi-intensive snail breeding system.
They are very suitable as hatchery and nursery pens because eggs and young snails can be easily located and observed.
Steps involved in the construction of a hutch box
- The dimension of the hutch box should be about 100cm x 100cm x 50cm with a stand of 35cm.
- You need to make the box have a cubical wooden frame.
- Next thing is to build the base of the box with hardwood with a little space underneath to allow free drainage of excess water.
- After constructing the box, sieve humus or loamy soil into it to a depth of 20 – 25cm.
- Cover the box with a lid made of chicken wire mesh reinforced with mosquito nets. The lid should be fitted with a padlock to discourage poachers from stealing your snails.
- Make the stand of the box to be at least 35 cm high
- When you are done building the hutch box, place the stands (legs) of inside a container or bowl and fill it with water plus kerosene. You can also use condemn engine oil or any other disinfectants to protect the legs of the box. The reason for this treatment is to prevent insects from crawling up the box to attack the snails.
- Always remember to change the soil in the hutch box to reduce the accumulation of slime and snail droppings. An accumulation of droppings and slime tends to increase the chances of disease development in the snail house.
- A box of 1sqr.m can be used to rear 4 – 6 mature snails.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Hutch Boxes
A major advantage of hutch boxes is that they can be placed close to the farmer’s house, ensuring good supervision and protection.
The height of the hutch boxes makes it comfortable to work on and facilitates feeding and handling of the snails.
In contrast, hutch boxes are somewhat expensive to construct, and they come in limited sizes, which restrict the number of snails that can be kept in them.
3. Construction of Snail House Using Old Tyres
Old tyres are less expensive and readily available in urban areas.
It can be sourced from local mechanics or vulcanizers.
For those who want to rear snails in their backyard, this is a very snail farming structure that will fit.
Although tyres have poor ventilation, you can improve ventilation by perforating them using a hot pointed metal rod.
To constructs snail housing using old tyres;
- Select an appropriate site under a shade.
- Stack 3 – 4 tyres upon one another as shown in the image above.
- After stacking, fill the tyres with suitable loamy soil to a depth of 10 – 15cm.
- Cover the tyres with chicken wire and mosquito mesh, placed between the topmost tyre and the second one from the top for protection.
Car tyres can hold up to 3 – 6 snails, depending on their sizes.
Tyres of larger diameters can hold between 5 – 10 mature snails.
There is, however, an argument that snail can eat into the tyres in search of calcium.
This singular reason renders tyres unfit for snail farming to protect the humans that eat the snails.
4. Drums/Old Tanks used for Construction of Snail Pen
In place of tyres for the construction of snail pens, you can use oil drums and old tanks.
Instead of disposing of your oil drums and old tanks, you can put them into productive use.
This is recycling 101.
Old tank drums are good for small-scale production (especially for family consumption).
To construct snail housing using oil drums or old tanks;
- Lay sacks on the bottom of the tank to hold the soil and then fill with humus or loamy soil to a depth of 10-15cm.
- Place dry leaves on the soil layer as mulching.
- Cover the box with a lid made of chicken wire mesh reinforced with mosquito nets.
- The tank could be placed on a stand if available.
5. Trench Pen Snail House
Trench pen is a type of snail habitat that is built in a shallow pit.
To construct trench pens,
- Select an appropriate site and peg out the position of your pen.
- The trench is either dug into the ground or raised 40 – 50cm above ground level using cement blocks.
- Ensure that the trench is well-drained to prevent water-logging
- Fill the trench with good loamy soil to a depth of 10 – 15cm.
- Concrete can be levelled on the floor of the trench before topping with the soil.
- Construct feeding and water trough to a height 5 –7cm above the soil level.
- After that, cover the pen properly with a well-fitted framework of chicken wire plus mosquito net.
- Trench pens have the advantage of being flexible, especially when sorting snails according to their sizes and phase in the growing cycle. The snails are always easy to locate, for handling, feeding, selection, and final sale or consumption.
- Trench pens also have the disadvantage of being expensive to construct (especially the raised trench pen). Secondly, the farmer may end up having backache because of long stooping or kneeling due to the low height of the trench. Therefore, you should consider constructing your snail trench pen to a reasonable height.
6. Free-range Snail Farming System
Free-range snail farming is a type of snail farming structure in which snails are allowed to roam freely and feed on open pastures of living food crops, rather than being densely confined in small enclosures and fed only compound foods.
The freedom to roam in large areas allows the snails to avoid each other’s slime trails.
Over-slimed ground and excess faeces can change snail behaviour by putting out chemical signals like *pheromones which are detrimental to reproduction and growth rates in snails.
* A pheromone is a chemical an animal produces which changes the behaviour of another animal of the same species.
Allowing snails to breed at their own pace and encouraging the natural biological cycle in an ecological farming system, results in better breeding performance, a faster rate of growth, higher reproduction yields and it meets the highest standards of quality and sustainable accountability.
The free-range snail housing system, however, has its own disadvantages.
- It requires more land than other types of snail farming.
- It is difficult to locate and protect eggs and newly born snails when using the free-range system.
- A fully enclosed and roofed pen is relatively expensive to build.
- In the open type of free-range pen, it is more difficult to keep out predators and poachers.
- It may be difficult to control disease outbreak because of the farm size.
If you have questions or suggestions, please use the comment box below.