Introduction: Heliciculture - Snail Farm Vivarium
This is my first instructable !!!
Hi everyone my name is Andreia and I'm a Snailaholic.*hangs head in shame and hopes for help*.
I won't bore you with the details or nostalgic memories, that include my grandfather taking me snail "picking" as a treat, after the rooster spent the day chasing me all over the allotment with me screaming for mercy and my grandad after him shouting and waving a spade above his head, swearing that he'd make it into the pot that evening.
Step 1: Making the Vivarium
The vivarium needs to have good drainage,be kept under shade to keep cool and humidity in,be breathable as well as keep away predators ,like birds and mice.
Large scale snail farmers build cement blocks,because it's more cost efficient.
I've use 50 cheap bricks instead,made the floor by laying 12 bricks and started the structure up from there,making sure that any gaps were filled to prevent the snails from escaping.
* periwinkles shells for decoration optional"
Step 2: Making the Top Frame
The top frame is made from 2" x 1" battens and has fine steel mesh sandwiched inside it to prevent the snails escaping from the vivarium whilst allowing plenty of ventilation.
Firstly, the ends of the battens are rebated with a hand saw so that they overlap with each other. Next they are laid flat on the ground and nailed together, ensuring that the frame is perfectly square.
The mesh was only available in a small sized roll so it had to be overlapped with a central batten.
Finally, the second frame, with no central batten, was laid over the mesh to create a sandwich. YUM !!!!!
Step 3: Getting Your Snails
There are many websites where you can purchase a few snails and some fancy leaflets for £60-£80,I got mine from the garden.
I try to avoid the big brown garden snail,Helix Aspera,as they are too chewy after cooking. But that is my personal taste, some people only eat those and they say the best way to cook them is roasted.
My favourite are Cepaea nemoralis.( The ones with the stripes )
Step 4: Ideal Environment
Snails need a well drained ,lose and nutritious soil, not only to lay their eggs on but it's a big part of their diet.
It's good to put a few worms in to help break up the soil and clean the snails unmentionables.
Snails need calcium to build their shells this can be :
-Powdered eggs shells
-Garden lime (Dolmite)
Place upside down pots,broken terracotta pieces, bricks ... Anything that'll provide hiding places and shelter.
Snails consider fresh grass a treat.
Step 5: Mating
Snails are hermaphrodites. Although they have both male and female reproductive organs, they must mate with another snail of the same species before they lay eggs. Some snails may act as males one season and as females the next. Other snails play both roles at once and fertilize each other simultaneously. When the snail is large enough and mature enough, which may take several years, mating occurs in the late spring or early summer after several hours of courtship.
*The picture is of slugs mating, but what's a slug if not a homeless snail.*
Step 6: Cooking Your Snails
Collect adult snails.
Wash them in clean water a few times until they lose all their slime.
Chop one onion plenty of garlic place in a big pan with olive oil and chop chouriço (optional) ,fry.
Place enough water that will cover the amount of snails.
Place a bunch of fresh oregano,a few bay leaves ,salt and pepper to taste and a few drops of chilli ( peri-peri)
When the water is warm ,place the snails in the pan and slowly bring to the boil.
This will allow for the snail to pop out of the shell.
Fetch the ones that didn't come out with a tooth pick.
* slurp the shells ,don't waste that juice*
Please don't cook them like the French, smothered in garlic and butter like they run out of condiments ...and taste buds are failing.