Building a Snail House to protect your snails from harsh weather conditions and predators shows how serious you are about the business, it prevents them from escaping and creates a favourable space for their growth. It is, therefore, crucial you construct your Snail House the right way. This guide will help you build different types of Snail House efficiently for both subsistence and commercial snail farming. A Snail House can also be called a Snail pen, Snailery, or Snail Housing.
Let’s get started by helping you with your site selection
Choosing a good site is a major decision to carefully consider before building your snail house, but we’ve made this decision process easy so you look out for these factors when selecting the site:
A site with favourable temperature
Snails have a high level of productivity in a cool environment with a temperature level between 25-30 degrees Celsius, it therefore helps to build your snail house on a site that is not exposed to intense sunlight or extreme cold.
Experts even advise positioning your snail house 45 degrees away from the sunset.
A site with good topography
Topography in simple terms is the shape of a site. Contrary to popular belief, snails are faster than we think and they escape more when you build your snail house on a sloppy site, it is easier for them to glide out on a sloppy place. Therefore, your site should have a flat surface.
A site with low infestation level of predators
When selecting the site, ensure it’s not prone to a high infestation level of predators such as ants, birds, centipedes, reptiles, rodents, termites, etc. and peradventure it is, make use of measures to eliminate them from the site before building your snail house on it.
The Available Space on the site
The available space on the site should be proportional to the number of snails you intend to stock in the snail house. Typically, one square meter of a snail house should be allocated to 4-6 mature snails and also, one square meter for close to 100 hatchlings (the small snails).
It is best to work with the available space you have to avoid overcrowding your snail house, an extension can come later as the business grows.
Furthermore, the available space on your site (among other factors) helps to determine the best housing system you can adopt for growing your snails and there are three of such housing systems.
Types of Snail Housing System
The low capital requirement to start a snail business is one of the numerous benefits of snail farming that stands out. However, this varies with the financial capability of the snail farmer and the management activities he plans to carry out. Based on this, there is the option of selecting from three housing systems, the one that best suits your budget
Intensive Snail Housing System
This is an enclosed housing system structured to recreate habitats snails are naturally found but with the snail farmer getting to completely control and supervise the snails’ activities such as feeding, cleaning, hatching, and so on.
Examples of this housing system are Green Houses, Plastic Tunnels, and buildings with a controlled climate.
If you plan on practising snail farming on a large scale, then you need a large area of land to effectively adopt this type of housing system.
Extensive Snail Housing System
This type of housing system is practised using outside pens like baskets, old car tires, old drums and tanks, and structures that are not enclosed and climate-controlled like the intensive housing system.
You can practice this system for snail production on a small scale.
Finally, we have the semi-intensive housing system that combines some of the practices of both the intensive and extensive housing systems. In this system, egg-laying and hatching occur in a controlled environment like the intensive housing system.
However, after 6-8 weeks the young snails are moved to the outside pens for further development like in the extensive housing system.
Now that we’ve discussed the types of housing systems you can adopt, let’s take a step further to look at structures you can use in housing your snails and how to construct them
- Materials Needed
- Good Baskets (Plastic or Woven)
- Chicken Wire
- Mosquito Net
- Soil (We recommend Loamy soil)
Step by step procedure on How to Use Baskets
Remember we started with factors to consider when selecting the right site to structure your snail house.
The first step in using the basket is then to:
- Place your basket in a spot considering those factors
- After doing that, lay the sack inside the basket
- Then fill the basket with the soil (ensure the soil is treated organically to kill germs and insects) till it reaches a depth of 10-15cm
- The next step is to spread withered leaves on the soil layer to enrich it (or you can treat the soil with calcium supplements)
- Then make a cover that can fit on the basket using the chicken wire and mosquito net (this is to protect your snails from predators)
- Place the Cover over the basket.
- That’s pretty much everything involved in making a snail house using a basket.
1) You can place the basket on a stand so you won’t have to always bend when tending to your snails
2) About once every two weeks, carefully take the snails out and replace the old soil with a fresh one
3) To treat your soil organically, use the NEEM TREATMENT (ask for directions on use from an expert)
Limitation of Using a Basket
You can only grow a few numbers of snails using a basket
Using Old Car Tires
- Materials Needed
- 3-4 old car tires
- Chicken Wire
- Mosquito Nets
- Hot Metal Rod
- Soil (We still recommend an organically treated loamy soil)
Step by Step Procedure on How to Use Old Car Tires
- Get 3-4 old car tires ( you can get from local Mechanics or Vulcanizers)
- Then look for a good location (a well-shaded site)
- Mount the tires on top of each other
- After which you then fill the tires with loamy soil to a depth of 10-15 cm (you can use a ruler to take measurement)
- Then Cover the tires with the chicken wire and mosquito net
- Make use of the hot rod to puncture the tires (Not so big that the snails can crawl out, but big enough to allow ventilation)
Tip: Place the Cover (chicken wire and mosquito net) between the topmost tire and the second one from the top, this will give firm protection against predators
Car tires are perfect for snail farming on a low scale
Suitable for growing hatchlings
Car tires can only hold up to 3-6 snails, depending on their sizes (The bigger the snails, the smaller the number)
There’s an argument that tires contain some element of calcium, and this is not a healthy calcium source for snails
Using an Old Tank
- Constructing your snail house using an old tank follows almost the same procedures using old car tires
- Materials Needed
- Old Tank
- Wire Mesh (Chicken wire and mosquito net)
Step by Step Procedure on Using an Old Tank
- Make holes at the sides of the tank to allow ventilation and underneath to allow drainage
- Then Place the sac at the bottom of the tank
- After which you then add soil to about a depth of 10-15cm
- You can enrich the soil by spreading withered leaves on it
- Then cover with the mesh to protect your snails from predators
- Tip: Place the tank on a stand so you can have easy access to your snails
This housing structure is suitable for rearing snails on a small scale, particularly for family consumption
It is also easy to construct
The number of snails you can rear using this structure is limited to a few numbers
Now let’s move on to more advanced structures of snail houses
Trench pens are adjoining snail pens either dug to the ground or raised 40-50 cm above the ground, they are constructed using cement blocks
- Termite and decay resistant Wood (we suggest you get wood made from Iroko and Opepe trees)
- Digging Material (Preferably a shovel)
- Wire Mesh (Chicken Wire and Mosquito net)
- Concrete (sand and cement mixed in the right proportion)
- Cement Blocks
- Galvanized Sheets (Optional form of a roof over the Trench Pen)
How to Construct Trench Pens
- After selecting the appropriate site
- Use the shovel to dig a shallow hole to the ground (if you plan on building the trench pen into the ground
- Then make use of the cement blocks to build the trench pens into the ground or raise it 40-50 cm above the ground level
- Depending on your choice, you can level the inside of the trench pen with concrete
- Ensure the trench pen is well-drained to prevent waterlogging
- Then fill the trench pen with soil to a depth up to 15-20 cm
- Place withered leaves on the soil to enrich it
- And make a cover with the mesh using the wood as a frame
- Cover the pen with it and padlock to protect your pen
- You can decide to build a roof over the trench pen using the galvanized sheets
Congratulations, you’ve just successfully built a Trench Pen
Tip: Ensure you replace the soil in the pen every once in a while to prevent over slimming
The Trench pen gives you flexibility when sorting your snails according to size and growth phase
You can easily locate the snails for feeding handling and selection
You spend more on constructing a trench pen than the previously mentioned snail houses
You have to bend to tend to the snails due to the height of the trench pens
Hutch Boxes are square or rectangular, single or multi-chambered wooden boxes with lids and they are placed on a stand
- Termite-and-decay-resistant Wood (we suggest you get wood made from Iroko and Opepe trees)
- Wire Mesh (Chicken Wire and Mosquito Net)
- Soil (Loamy and well-treated)
How to Construct Hutch Boxes
- Select an appropriate site to place your hutch box(es)
- Then make the box(es) using the wood
- Drill some holes at the bottom of the box(es) to allow drainage
- Go ahead to fill the box(es) with the soil to a depth of 20-25 cm
- Then make a lid with the mesh making use of the wood as a frame
- Attach the lid to the boxes using the hinges
- Ensure you build a stand in a way that excess water from the boxes can drip out through the holes
- Finally, Place the hutch boxes on the stand
Tip: Build your stand to a comfortable height so you don’t have to bend to tend to your snails
It’s suitable for hatchery and nursery pens
You can easily access your snails
The cost of construction is on the high side
The smaller the size of the boxes, the higher the restriction in the number of snails you can grow
The Free-Range Pen for Snails
A free-range pen is a fenced area of land planted with vegetation and short trees that can serve to provide food for the snails and shelter them from the sun, rain, and wind.
Depending on the type of snail housing system adopted by the Snail Farmer, a free-range pen might be fully enclosed or open
How to Construct a Free-Range Pen
- After you must have selected the appropriate site to structure your pen on
- Fence the area based on the number of snails you plan on housing, you can build your fence using a fine chicken wire mesh (we
- suggest this form of fencing because snails don’t like crawling on them, so you’re assured your snails won’t escape) or you can fence
- using bricks and concrete blocks
- The next step is to dig your fence to at least a depth of 20cm to prevent your snails from tunnelling to the ground and escaping
- If you don’t plan on enclosing your pen with a roof, then the height of your fence only needs to be a few inches. On the other hand, if you plan on roofing, consider the height of the highest vegetation or short trees, and build your fence a few inches above it
- You can build your roof using either the chicken wire mesh or any material that will protect your snail from harsh weather conditions and at the same time will not obstruct the growth of your vegetation
- Fill the fenced area with an organically treated loamy soil to an appropriate depth, ensure it’s also loose so your snails can easily dig into them for protection and also for laying eggs
- Then you plant your vegetation and trees.
- To get suggestions on what to plant, check out our post on The Best Type of Feeds to Give Your Snails.
This pen is suitable for snail farming on a large scale
The large area gives the snails the advantage of having less contact with each other’s slime trails (An over slimed area is toxic to snail’s growth)
It encourages the natural biological cycle of a snail’s growth resulting in a higher production rate
A fully enclosed free-range pen is relatively expensive to construct
It requires more land than the other type of snail houses
It is difficult to locate small snails and eggs
It might be difficult to control a disease outbreak due to the Pen’s size
How NGsnails Can Help With Your Snail Housing
At NGsnails, we can help maximize your budget to build a snail house that can efficiently function to give you a high return on your investment, whether you’re rearing the snails for your consumption or sales
Also, we give consultation on subjects like how to treat your soil organically using the NEEM TREATMENT, how best to position your snail house, and a lot more on snail housing.
Kindly share this article with a friend who wants to go about building a snail house the right way.