Snail Pen Construction: All You Need To Know
Snails are hard-shelled animals classified as invertebrates because they lack backbones. They are suitable as food supplements and besides consumption, snails serve essential purposes in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical and beauty products.
Snail housing is one of the crucial aspects of snail farming and some farmers strive at length to equip their snail farms with nearly all the components –such as moderate humidity, windbreak, rich feeds and fertile soil –snails require for healthy living.
In addition to the construction of a snail pen, this article discusses the varieties of snail pens and how small-scale farmers can build low-profile snail houses using domestic materials like unused tyres and old tanks.
Varieties Of Snail Pens
The modern construction of a snail pen comes on the basis of three varieties which are best understood as “systems’’.
Therefore, the three systems are
- intensive system
- semi-intensive system
- Extensive system.
As the name implies, the semi-intensive or mixed system integrates the intensive system with the extensive system. Going by the standards of the semi-intensive system, snails are confined to enclosures where they lay and hatch eggs. After 2 months from the hatching of eggs, they will be taken out of the enclosures.
The intensive system is imitative of the environment snails are naturally found in. It is common amongst farmers who engage in snail farming with the objective of generating profits.
Since such farmers usually aim to rear large amounts of snails, they tend to cultivate huge tracts of land. In general, the intensive system comprises various types of snail housing including pens, greenhouses, plastic tunnels and buildings characterized by limited climate fall.
The extensive system is a pattern of snail housing specific to subsistence farmers and those who practise farming on a small scale.
Since such farmers engage in snail farming mainly for the purpose of consumption, they spend less on snail housing by using some of the household materials available to them.
These materials are usually cheap to get as they include pots, disused car tyres, drums, abandoned tanks, baskets and other usable domestic items.
Structure Of A Modern Snail Pen
While building a snail pen, there are things you should put in place to facilitate the growth of snails and prevent the snail pen from invasion by snail enemies such as soldier ants, termites, rats and snakes.
First of all, a modern snail pen should be well-structured probably in form of a rectangular enclosure. It can be 1 meter wide (depending on the number of snails) with the height of 65cm.
Likewise, ensure you construct a water-filled trench around the base of your snail pen. One more important thing is to flank the snail pen with something that should serve the purpose of a windbreak. This could come in form of a range of banana plants or plantain trees.
The bottom of the snail pen can also be reinforced with cement just to prevent invasion by termites, soldier ants and other predators.
You can also pour some engine oil on the walls of your snail pen and provide coverage for the top of the pen. Advisably, it should be a wooden coverage with well-fitted wire gauze.
This darkens the snail pen and it is recommended because snails tend to survive better in a darkened habitant with low temperature.
However, you must ensure that the humidity of the snail pen is moderate. On the contrary, a pen with extremely low humidity potentially harms snails by making them hibernate or cease growing.
Under optimum circumstances with a mild climate, the humidity range of 75-95°F is the most recommended option for snail farming.
How to Build a Snail House Using an Old Tank
If you have an old or unused tank, you need not dispose of it as it may be used in constructing a manageable snail house.
This housing structure is best suited for anyone thinking about rearing snails on a low budget particularly for family consumption or small volume of snail production.
Follow the instructions below to build a snail house using an old/unused tank.
- Perforate the tank (This will allow adequate ventilation into it)
- Place a polythene sheet (or a sack) underneath the tank
- Then add sufficient loam or humus making sure it reaches the depth of 10 to 15cm
- Look for withered leaves and spread them on the soil layer (This will enrich the soil)
- Get a cover made of chicken wire strengthened with nets –typically the ones used in preventing mosquito invasion
- Place the cover over the box. Also, you can situate the tank on a stand or other support if there is any within your reach
How to Build a Snail House Using a Tyre
For anyone who can’t afford an elaborate snail pen, tyres of automobiles can serve as a great alternative for constructing a snail house.
If you are starting snail farming on a low profile and would like to build your snailery using tyres, just look around for automotive tyres or go to a nearby mechanic shop to get some abandoned ones. One major disadvantage of using tyres is that there won’t be adequate ventilation but to prevent this condition, you can simply puncture the tyres using a heated rod.
Doing this will create hollows in the tyres thereby providing sufficient ventilation for the snails. After getting a number of unused tyres (probably 4 or 5), follow the instructions below to set up a snail house.
- Look for a suitable location for the snail housing (It is best that you choose an area with adequate shadiness. It could be under a tree)
- Gather the tyres together (probably 4 or 5 tyres) and mount them on each other
- With that done, pour suitable loam into the tyres making sure the soil reaches the depth of 15cm
- Look for a mesh in form of a chicken wire fortified with a mosquito net
- Spread the mesh over the tyres, making sure it is fitted in between the tyre at the top and the tyre next below it i.e. the topmost tyre and the one preceding it (This will serve protective purposes against enemies such as rats)