List of important food for snails you should know
There are lots of questions on the internet as to what snails eat, same goes to different chat platforms. What do snails eat and drink is a regular search query in the search box of many snail farmers. Understanding how to source food for snails is important to any snail farmer.
Here is the truth, the truth is snail eat wide varieties of food ranging from naturally occurring food materials to formulate feeds.
The food for snails varies from one specie to another, but, our concern here, is the Land snails which comprises of the Achatina marginata, Achatina Fulica and Giant African Land snail (Achatina achatina).
Feeding in land snails
Snails are nocturnal animals and therefore most of their activities take place during the night hours or dark morning hours, they source for food at night using their strong sense of smell as an advantage.
Snails are cold-blooded animal and therefore their feeding activities are bound to be influenced by their environment, time and season.
In preparing food for snails, the temperature inside the pen is hugely important, ensure that the snails are comfortable.
The moisture content of the soils inside the pen (snail house) is okay, you can irrigate the pen (apply water to help moderate the temperature of the pen).
The temperature should not be more than 25cm while the humidity should be around 75cm
How do snails eat?
Snails are Carnivorous and herbivorous in feeding; they eat materials such as fruits, vegetables, leaves tubers etc are all important food for snails.
Snails have a mouth with rows of chitin teeth used to break, scrape food and eat their food. They eat their food using the radula (tongue-like organ, covered with protrusions called denticles), by cutting and scraping the food.
Snails don’t have strong teeth like other animals neither do they eat a large quantity of food like other animals.
What you feed your snails account for their productivity and so, should be properly managed.
Never believe the saying that snail eats anything, yes, they eat quite a wide variety of food, but Not anything, in fact, some materials can harm your snails when eating.
What do Snail eat?
Snails eat a huge selection of food from carbohydrate (for energy), protein for growth especially the shells, fruits, vegetables and plants, plants, algae, and fungi.
This is because some snails are carnivores, some omnivores while others are herbivores in feeding.
Herbivores snails consume plants like mushrooms, bark, plant crops, leaves, fungi, Cowpea, Soya beans, dried Moringa leaves, and dried cassava leaves (blended into a powder).
Carnivorous snails eat earthworms, annelids, slugs, conch, and calcium for shell production.
List of Food for snails
- Calcium content
- Mixed food content.
cherry, cranberry, dragon fruit, grape, kiwi, mango, melon, nectarine, passion fruit, peach, pears, plantains, strawberries, watermelon and tomato, peach etc.
yam, sweet potatoes, cocoyam, cassava, plantain
Leaves and Vegetable
carrots, peas, lettuce, and leafy greens. Broccoli, cassava, eggplant, celery, cabbage, beans, spinach onion
Native plants, leaf surfaces, and grass
hibiscus, cauliflower, sunflower, rose.
Water and other mixed food content
Snail drink water to maintain moderate body temperature
Snails must be fed Calcium supplement
Snails need a steady supply of calcium to build and repair shell. Calcium supplements or extract can be gotten from bone meal, grind shell of dead snails, crushed cuttlebone, and wood ash.
How to get calcium for snail
You can buy calcium from retailers in the market, get from eggshells or even snail shell (dead snails shell), grind the shells into powered form and combine them with your snail food. You can also buy from fellow snail farmers.
Snails love Fruity food
Even though fruits are nutritious and an important part of snail food because of the minerals and vitamins snail drives from fruits, ONLY 10% of a Snails diet needs to be fruit.
Snails who are fed too much sugar can suffer from several diseases and deformities. So please limit yourself to feeding fruit as a treat and never more than a small portion once a week.
Some snails tend to like sweet and soft food and will overeat fruits such as banana and ripe pears, so remember to portion size for them.
Feed them fruits like Pumpkins, watermelon, grapes. Apple, cucumber, cherries (ripe one), apricot.
Others are Banana, blackberries, black, currant, blueberries, cherry, cranberry, dragon fruit, grape, kiwi, mango, melon, nectarine, passion fruit, peach, pears, plantains, strawberries, watermelon and tomato, peach, orange peels and plantain.
Snails love Vegetables and leaves
Vegetables are important for snail reproductive health. They eat carrots, peas, lettuce, and leafy greens. Broccoli, cassava, eggplant, celery, cabbage, beans, spinach onion greens.
Snails eat leaves of cocoyam, kola, mushroom, carrot, beans, broccoli, eggplant, cassava, Apple etc.
Snails eat selected Flowers
Snail eats edible flowers such as hibiscus, cauliflower, sunflower, rose.
Snail gets carbohydrate from common tubers such as yam, sweet potatoes, cocoyam, cassava, plantain, etc. These tubers are a good source of energy to snails. They are needed on a regular basis by snails.
Other important foods for snails include
Aquatic plants, algae, fish food, shrimp pellets, fresh water. Others are fruit peels and plantain.
What do snails drink?
Snails drink non-chlorinated Water
Water can be supplied in a flat plate for easy access by the snails. Chlorinated water should be avoided because it is harmful to the snails.
You can supply water to the snails by placing a shallow bowl filled with water beside the snail foods, for your snails to drink, note that the water must be clean and devoid of chlorine.
Remove the water after one of two days by then which it would have been unclean, add another and irrigate the pen as well.
You can also supply your snail’s liquids from fruits or vegetable if need be.
Snails eat formulated feed
Aside from the normal vegetable, leaves, flower and fruit, snails also enjoy formulated feed
How to formulate snail food
In formulating snail feeds, you must understand the nutrient content of the ingredient to be used so as to combine the ingredient in the right proportion to achieve the desired result.
For example, if we want to formulate a 27% carbohydrate-containing food for snails using cocoyam, cassava, sweet potatoes and plantain as ingredients.
You have to note the weight per percentage of carbohydrate contained in each of cocoyam, cassava, sweet potatoes and plantain
Ingredient used in (kg)
20kg of cocoyam
5kg of cassava
15kg of plantain
10kg of sweet potatoes
From the above ingredient, 20kg of cocoyam gave us 10% carbohydrate, 5kg of cassava gave 8% carbohydrate, 15kg of plantain gave 10% carbohydrate and 10kg of sweet potatoes gave 2% of carbohydrate.
Let’s assume that we want to formulate snail food that has the following percentage of carbohydrate in each ingredient.
5% carbohydrate in Cocoyam
10% carbohydrate in Cassava
8% carbohydrate in Plantain
4% carbohydrate in Sweet potatoes
TOTAL = 27% carbohydrate in all the ingredient which is our desired carbohydrate content of the feed.
Then if 20kg of cocoyam gives us 10% of carbohydrate what kg of cocoyam do we need to get 5% of carbohydrate?
We will have xkg*10%=20kg*5%
To get this clear, let’s do without the signs
You have 10x=100
That is to say, to get 5% of carbohydrate in cocoyam, we need to measure out 10kg of cocoyam.
Do this for the rest, you will have the following results.
Ingredient used in (kg)
10kg of cocoyam
6.25kg of cassava
10kg of plantain
20kg of sweet potatoes
Now we can measure out the desired kgs so as to get our desired percentage of carbohydrate in each ingredient.
Note that this is only applicable if the weight of ingredient is known and the percentage of the desired nutrient per weight of ingredient known as well.
Precaution to be taken during snail feed formulation
To get the desired result from formulating food for snails, the following condition must be met.
- Measure all ingredients to be used
- Understand the snail’s needs before formulating a feed to solve such need.
- Grind the ingredients to powered form before formulation.
- Ensure you take correct measurement.
- Write down each measured parameters with the name.
Just like in every other animal, feeding in snail is a daily practice, most times happen more than once in a day or even once in two days depending on the farmer’s management plan.
Precaution to be taken when feeding the snails
- Do not feed your snails with spoilt food: this happens mostly with fruits like cucumber, once they are decaying or rotten, kindly do away with them as they are capable of attracting insect into your snail pen. Insects are dangerous to snails.
- Wash the food if necessary: before feeding your snails with food materials like unripped pawpaw, ensure that they are washed after peeling them before supplying them to the snails.
- Clean the pen before supplying food: in your snail pen, the side on which you drop food for your snails should be cleaned before introducing another food.
- The pen should be moist: the most content of the pen is important during feeding, snails will normally roam around the pen in search of food at night hours, this becomes easier when the pen is moist enough and conducive for their movement.
You must note
Snails eat more wet and moist food and demand more water during the dry season.
The content of the food is more important than how many times you supply them with food. Here are the benefits of proper feeding in snail farming.
Benefits of proper feeding in snail
- Proper feeding improves the health of your snail.
- Well feed snails are not found wanting health-wise, so there will be fewer expenses on medication.
- It reduces the vulnerability of the snails to disease and infection: proper feeding increases the snail’s ability to resist diseases and infection.
This is a common occurrence in farm animals, feeding boost the immune systems and improves their ability to withstand attack by pathogens and other disease-causing organisms.
- Properly feed snails have a high market value.
When snails are fed properly, they appear healthier, they tend to be more vibrant and respond to touch, stimulus and changes quickly.
These are features most retailers and buyers look out for, once your snails are found wanting in these features, their price automatically goes down, unlike when they exhibit these features in the market.
- Proper feeding of your snails generally reduces the cost of managing your farm.
When properly fed, unforeseen expenses are cupped. It generally reduces the burden of managing your snails, because, they hardly get infected as they can boast of a boosted immune system, healthier life, and quick response.
- Snails don’t necessarily eat constantly when feed properly, they tend to have a reduced feeding system.
How to source food for snails
Snail food is everywhere, it all depends on your choice and what your snails prefer to eat as at the time of sourcing for their food, many farmers prefer to formulate feed by themselves, some prefer to buy in the market, whichever method suits your need and budget, there is none better than the other.
What is most important is; you feed them with the right proportion of food, snail needs calcium a lot for shell formation, their food should take into consideration, their need and how fast they are desired to grow.
Your snail diet should contain a good quantity of protein and minerals given food materials.
Harmful Food you must not feed your snails
- Never feed your snails salty food: Salty foods dehydrate snails, making it hard for them to survive, you must not feed your snails salty food, in fact, do not let salty go near your snails farm. salt is dangerous to snails.
- Chlorinated water: You must avoid letting your snails test chlorinated water, avoid any source of water that pose any chemical content, or treat the water before supplying it to your snails. chlorinayed water is harmful to snails.
- Starchy food: Starchy foods are not easily digestible and ends up blocking the snail’s internal organs, starchy foos like rice, pasta etc. should not be fed to the snails to avoid complications.
- spoilt food: Avoid feeding the snails spoilt or contaminated food, they are not good for the health of the snails, snails can easily be infacted through the consumption of contaminated food susbtances. Avoid it.
FAQs and their answers
How often can you feed your snails?
The mode and timing of feeding are dependent on the farmer and is decided based on what works for his/her snails, how they have been trained from the onset.
Some snail framers feed their snails once daily, some twice and some once in two days, this rationing is dependent on farmer’s need, how fast the snails are desired to mature, farmer’s budget and the farmer’s target.
What happens with quality feeding?
When snails are fed with food material containing a right proportion of nutrients and in large quantity, the food tends to stay longer in them, this is because, the nutrient content is in large quantity and proportion, and therefore takes longer time to be exhausted.
Conclusively, Snails eat different varieties of food and are constantly changing in their food demand as they grow into maturity. Newly born snails require a lot of calcium for the development and thickening of the shell.
Snails are more active in wet weather conditions due to the moisture and tend to consume more food during this period. Snails prefer to feed in the dark, hence you should note that when supplying them with food.
Preparing food for snails involves not just supplying them with food but understanding how to formulate the right proportion, your snail feed.
It is important to know that proper feeding implies feeding the snails with the right proportion of food and not necessarily about constantly supplying them with food.
Feeding is quite an important management practice. It plays an important role in the marketing aspect of your farm, how much they are priced in the market, how your snails look and it also reduces the need for constant medication.
Supplying the right proportion of food for snails should be every farmer’s priority. It aids in their general growth and saves the running cost of your snail farm.
We hope this post has been helpful in your understanding of food for snails and how to formulate snail food, let us know your thought in the comment below, as always, we will love to hear from you.