“Why are most of my snail eggs not getting hatched?” If you’ve asked yourself this question in the past few days, then this article is for you.
There are probably some steps you’re not getting right, but not to worry, we at NGsnails also had our fair share of mistakes when we started some years back, but now, we record a 97% success rate with our snail eggs, and we are certain this article will point you in the right direction on how to successfully hatch your snail eggs.
For you to easily understand this article, we’re going to be discussing the snail pen under three categories:
- The Parent Pen: this is the pen where your parent snails (the breeders) lay their eggs
- The Incubation Pen: just like the name sounds, it is the pen where the incubation process takes place
- The Nursery Pen: the pen you move your baby snails to after they have been hatched.
Now, let’s begin with the basics!
Snails are hermaphrodites, you probably must have seen this somewhere on the internet, and it’s very true. You see, every snail you have on your snail farm is capable of producing eggs, but the weird part is that they can’t “self-reproduce” – they have to mate to lay eggs.
They lay these eggs in clutches, sometimes 10, 15, and even more per clutch, depending on the specie you have on your farm (by the way, you should check out our post on the best type of snail species to raise for profitable snail farming)
Snails mostly lay their eggs inside the soil, which is why your soil (loamy or sandy-loamy) has to be loose and moist enough to allow them to do this. In some cases, they lay their eggs on the surface of the soil, but whichever the case is, you have to collect these eggs.
This leads us to…
Snail Eggs and the incubation /hatching processes
STEP 1: The Collection Process
In this process, you pick the eggs from the parent pen and transfer them to the incubation pen, this will allow a large percentage of the eggs to get hatched.
Why shouldn’t you just leave the eggs in the parent pen to hatch?
- The parent snails (breeders) can crush the eggs
- In your bid to moisten the parent pen, you might as well over-wet the pen and cause it to waterlog. A waterlogged pen is not good for your eggs to hatch and as such you may experience less than 50% at such a scenario.
How do you collect the eggs?
Once your snails start laying eggs, you have to gently till your soil to pick out the eggs buried in them (emphasis on “gently” – so you don’t crush your eggs while you’re tilling the soil with, let’s say…a hoe)
Please Note: Don’t ever pick the eggs with your bare hands, always use a plastic spoon. The eggs you touch with your bare eggs may not hatch (this is one of the mysteries of life we hope to unravel soon) due to contamination or alteration.
Use a plastic spoon to gently scoop the eggs you find in the soil into a tray.
After you collect the eggs, the next step is to transfer them to the incubation pen to begin the incubation process. But before we go into the details of the incubation process, put it in mind that once your snails start laying eggs, you have to repeat the collection process weekly to get new eggs, till they stop laying eggs.
STEP 2: The Incubation Process
Before we dive right into this process, remember we talked about how the moisture content of the soil in the parent pen doesn’t favor the incubation process? For this reason, we are making a quick stop on…
How you can know if your soil is suitable for incubation
The foremost thing is that the soil has to be either a loamy or a sandy-loamy, any other soil just won’t do. Now, there’s a neat trick you can use to check if the moisture content of the soil is suitable for incubation:
- Grab some of the soil in your hand and squeeze, if it takes the shape of your hand (like a ball) when you open up your hands, then it’s likely suitable for incubation
- A way to be certain is to throw it in the air and let it fall back on your palm, if it scatters evenly on your palm, then yay! You’ve found a soil suitable for incubation.
Now that you’ve identified the most suitable soil for incubation, introduce it to the incubation pen.
What happens in the incubation pen?
- Make holes in the soil, you can either use your hands or a hand trowel to make them. Ensure the holes you make are not too deep, with a diameter wide enough to contain the eggs (we suggest that you place not more than 20-50 eggs per hole). Also, evenly space these holes in the pen.
- Now, gently place the eggs you collected from the parent pen in the holes, using a plastic spoon.
- After you’re done placing the eggs in the holes, gently cover them up with light soil – the weight of a heavy soil can damage the eggs and kill the hatchlings (if by some miracle, the eggs get hatched)
- For record purpose, on each hole, you can pin down a piece of paper containing the following information:
The collection date – the date you collected the eggs from the parent pen and transferred them to the incubation pen
The number of eggs you have in each hole – this gives you an estimate of the number of hatchlings to expect from each hole
The expected date of hatching – this is usually 21-35 days after you introduce the eggs to the incubation pen.
Apart from the pinned paper on each hole giving you this vital information that is needed in preparing provisions for your hatchlings, it also helps you identify where the holes are located in the incubation pen, making it easy for you to remove the hatchlings at the due date.
READ ALSO: The Best Guide To Building A Snail House
Maintenance Practices in the Incubation Pen
The moisture content of the soil is what has to be maintained during incubation to keep the soil temperature suitable for incubation, the snail eggs in the soil starts to dry up once the moisture content of the soil reduces. The moisture content of soil varies with the location of your snail farm. If you’re in an area that regularly experiences hot weather, then you have to be prepared to spray the soil in your incubation pen with water every day to keep it moist.
On the other hand, if your snail farm is located where the weather is cool, then once in a while will do. What is important is that the soil in your incubation pen remains moist at all times.
Please Note: Always ensure you spray the soil lightly with water, we suggest that you use a hand sprayer, this will help you to avoid adding too much water to the soil, which is one of the reasons most snail eggs go bad. Remember, the goal is to keep the soil moist and not water-logged throughout the incubation period.
We didn’t forget the pinned papers we suggested you put on each hole, remove them whenever you want to spray the soil with water.
What happens next?
After 21 days into the incubation process, check on your pens to pick out the hatchlings, some eggs might hatch before then (depending on the genes of the baby snail) but usually, after 21 days is when most of the snail eggs begin to hatch, some of the hatchlings would naturally crawl out to the surface of the soil.
For the others, you have to uncover the holes using a plastic spoon to pick out the hatchlings buried in them. The reason for using a plastic spoon to pick the hatchlings from the hole is that some of the eggs might have still not hatched after the 21st day, and you only limit their chances of hatching when your hands come in contact with them.
Re-incubate the eggs that are yet to hatch for another 15 days, if after then, they still don’t get hatched, then you might have to discard them as they probably will never hatch.
The truth is, not all the eggs are expected to hatch, but a higher percentage will hatch when you stick to the right procedures.
STEP 3: The Nursery Pen
For this step, simply transfer the hatchlings from the incubation pen to the nursery pen, this is important because, in a quest to get calcium, some of the hatchlings can start to feed on the eggs that are yet to hatch.
So what you do before you transfer the hatchlings to the nursery pen is to add a mixture of calcium source to the soil, the calcium will help the hatchlings develop a strong shell.
We will discuss more on how you can take proper care of your hatchlings in one of our subsequent articles.
But before then, we hope this article increases your success rate when it comes to hatching your snail eggs.
We wish you all the best in your snail farming adventure. Feel free to share with your friends.