Snails are able to eat almost anything. They eat fungi, fruits, flowers, fresh vegetables, and even decaying plants. They are herbivorous, carnivorous, omnivorous, and detritivorous (being able to feed on decaying plants and animals). While your snails can eat almost all kinds of food, it is best to provide them with only the essential food for snails.
The good news about snail food is that they are very easy to get and they are cheap too.
In this article, you will find a list of the most essential food for snails that you cannot do without.
Feeding your snails with the list of snail foods in this article will ensure that your snails grow healthy and fast.
Before we get into the details, let’s examine how snails eat.
Helpful article: How to start a snail farming business.
How do snails eat?
Generally, Snails are nocturnal animals, which means that they are primarily active at night. Hence, they look for food during the night or very early in the morning using their powerful sense of smell. If you are placing the food for the snails in their pen, then you need to place the food in the evening so that when they creep out to eat at night, they will find the food.
When snails find their food, they scrape or cut through the food with their ‘radula’ before swallowing the food. The radula is a special tongue-like organ, covered with thousands of tiny tooth-like protrusions called denticles. It is found in the mouth of snails and other molluscs. Snails use the radula to chew food since they do not possess any set of teeth as other mammals do.
Feeding activities for snails depend on the weather, and snails may not necessarily eat every day. Wet season (or irrigation) encourages feeding since the moisture makes it easier for the snails to move about.
Young snails can eat about twice as much feed as mature snails, and they prefer soft leaves and shoots.
Watch this video below to see a snail eating a fruit and a leaf.
What is the best snail food for the quick growth of snails?
Snails love fleshy fruits, soft vegetables, and a lot of calcium supplements (like eggshells and oyster shells) to help in their shell formation and growth.
Below, is a list of the best for snails.
1. Soft fleshy fruits:
The best fruits for snails include watermelon, pawpaw, orange, cucumbers, pear, apple, mango, aubergine, banana, and artichoke. Snails also love to eat eggplant, tomato, apricot, pear, fig, peach, pumpkins, ripe cherries, pineapple, and many other fruits.
Fruits are rich sources of minerals and vitamins but are low in protein.
2. Leaves and vegetables:
Snails will eat the leaves of the following plants: Apple, broccoli, cocoyam, spinach, kola, cassava, onion greens, okra, eggplant, celery, parsley, loofah, turnip, mushroom, carrot, barley, chamomile, beans, cabbage, and paw-paw.
Paw-paw leaves (as well as their fruit, flower, and fruit peels) stand out as essential food for snails.
3. Tuber crops:
Snails will eat tuber crops like cassava, yam, cocoyam, sweet potato, and Irish potato.
Tubers are a good source of carbohydrates, though low in protein. If you are feeding your snails cassava, ensure that you feed them a cassava variety with very low cyanide content.
Some flowers that snails will eat include; rose, cauliflower, hibiscus, paw-paw, and sunflower.
5. Calcium supplements:
Some examples of calcium supplements for snails include calcium powder, eggshells, oyster shells, cuttlebone, shells from dead snails, natural limestone, and bone meal.
Snails must have an abundant supply of calcium to build and repair their shells. Hence, you must always keep a source of calcium in the snail housing at all times.
6. Non-chlorinated water:
Place a shallow dish filled with spring water for your snail to drink from, and bathe in. Replace the water every 1-2 days.
Ensure you do not supply chlorinated water because chlorine is harmful to snails.
7. Household wastes:
Some household wastes like peels of fruits and tubers, bananas, plantain, watermelon, damaged fruits, yams, and cooked foods like potatoes, rice, carrot, and beans.
You must, however, be careful to avoid household wastes that contain salt.
Note that raw food has a higher nutritional content for snails than cooked or processed foods.
8. Formulated food:
Besides vegetables and tubers, snails also feed on concentrated or formulated feed.
Making formulated feeds for snails involves the combination of basic ingredients such as bone meal, maize, groundnut cake, soybean meal, fish meal, wheat offal, palm kernel cake, and oyster shell
These ingredients must be combined at different proportions to meet the standard for feeding snails.
Here are the reasons to feed snails formulated feed
It’s okay to feed snails feed formulation because of the following?
- Formulated feed helps to improve the performance of snails
- It is easy to store for a longer period unlike vegetables and fruits
- Snail feed concentrate saves time and energy
- With formulated snail feeds, you can meet the specific nutritional demands of snails.
Things to consider when formulating feed for snails
When formulating the snail feed concentrate, here are some of the things to consider;
- You must know the state (health and reproductive state) of the snail.
- It’s important to know the cost of each ingredient.
- You must also know the nutrient requirements of the snail.
- Finally, you must be certain that there is the availability of the feed ingredient.
Precaution for formulating snail feed
To get a well-formulated feed the following precautions need to be taken.
- Ensure that the ingredients are not damp.
- After formulating the feed, make sure that you keep the feed formulation in a dry place.
- Also, note that the feed must be ground to powder.
Harmful foods you should never feed snails
Starchy foods like rice, millet, and pasta are not easily digestible and they end up blocking the internal digestive system.
This internal blockage can cause swelling and hence, result in the death of snails.
Salt should be generally avoided as they are dangerous to snails.
2. Contaminated foods:
Any food that has been treated with pesticide is a potential snail killer.
Also, homegrown foods that have been contaminated by poisonous gases (like vehicle fumes) are not good for snails.
Snails will always avoid plants that have hairy leaves or those that produce defensive toxic chemicals. You should be careful not to provide your snails with such.
3. Salty Foods
Snails can only survive in an atmosphere that is cool with a substantial amount of moisture.
But salt can cause them to dehydrate quickly.
Therefore, you must avoid feeding your snails salty food since it is very harmful to them.
Salty foods will dehydrate your snails, thereby limiting their chances of survival.
In fact, many cooks use salt to wash off the slime from snails to show you how dangerous salt can be to them.
4. Chlorinated water:
Some water sources like tap water may contain chlorine that’s harmful to snails.
If you don’t have access to non-chlorinated water, you can leave tap water out in the sun for 48 hours to remove chemicals.
Ensure you use a very shallow dish to supply water to the snails to prevent them from drowning.
Best practices for feeding snails
It is good practice to ensure you wash all food before you give them to the snails. This is important because some insect larvae may be hiding in the food without you knowing.
In addition, remove all leftover snail food from the pens daily as it will decay quickly. Decaying food will attract fleas, lice, mice, rats, and diseases.
To facilitate cleaning, place snail food on a flat dish or a concrete slab constructed within the pen. All dishes (both feed and water dishes) should be heavy enough as the snails will tend to tip them up as they move over them.
This post gives you a fair idea of some of the best foods for snails so you know what snails eat and drink to survive.
As a result of the omnivorous nature of snails, they feed on virtually all varieties of food.
Some of the best foods for snails include vegetables, fruits, tuber crops, concentrated feed, and many more. They eat almost all human consumables with few exceptions.
Generally, snails can eat up to 4-6% of their body weight within 24 hours. Therefore, it is very necessary to feed them properly because it aids reproduction capacity and increases their size.
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