Heliciculture - Snail Farm Vivarium





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
-Natural chalk
-Lime stone
-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.

Step 7:

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    17 Discussions

    I'll be honest, i think slowly boiling them is animal cruelty, even though they're just molusks its not nice cook them alive slowly

    Fantastic instructable, thank you. Garlic and cheese snails is quite delicious. But I agree, don't go overboard with the garlic either.

    I have heard of people putting maize meal/corn meal down in the Vivarium, what is your take on this?

    2 replies

    Thank you . People use Maize/corn meal to "purify" the snails.If you are worried about or not sure what they've been eating, after collecting your snails put them in a clean container/box and feed them corn meal, after it went through them a couple of times you'll know for sure that they are clean. You can also drop some garlic there after without waiting to go through them, this way you don't need to go overboard with garlic when cooking.

    Thanks for the advice. Will definitely try it as soon as I do a vivarium.


    2 years ago

    Ok, you mentioned slugs at one point. do you also eat those?

    also , what if you happen to LOVE garlic? do the French cook their snails in the garlic and butter or do they add that after cooking? and would that make the "idea" of eating snails more appetizing?

    THirdly, you grouted your bricks. do you add a brick floor under the soil or can't they escape under the soil, do you have to half bury the first row of bricks? the angled bricks are pretty but do they serve a purpose? Thanks for making this ibble. I've always been curious about snails.

    1 reply

    Hi, I've never eating slugs, but there's always a first I hear. If you LOVE garlic add as many as you want to the " stew" water before dropping them in, you can even feed them garlic prior to cooking, and not allowing them to pass it. You'll have garlicky snails. I've laid twelve bricks for the floor and grouted those too, the purpose of the soil is for them to eat it and lay their eggs in. I don't know how deep they are willing to dig in order to escape,but given that I'm providing them with everything they need I doubt they'll be bothered. * snails rule*

    I am sorry, and I truly don't mean to offend...but...ewww. ..lol. I am a big fan of trying new foods and such and I enjoy grossing my family out by eating baby octopi and other squiggly things; but I just don't think my palate would agree with snails. Not to mention I am extremely grossed out by snails and slugs, almost to the point of a phobia. But to each their own and food is food as long as it tastes good and fills your belly. lol. Awesome work on the 'ible and keep on raising your own food, not matter what it is, cause self sustainability. is an admirable trait.

    1 reply

    I love your humor! How long does it take to get a bowl full of snail...(how long does it take for them to reproduce)?

    1 reply

    Well it all depends how fast you can run to catch them. They mating season is In June,and October in hoter weather, ,I'm not sure exactly how long they get from eggs to edible size,but I would say approximately 2/3 months in the wild. This can all be encouraged if they have right conditions,warmth,humid environment ,good soil ,plenty of space. Big scale farmers normally have them indoors so they can easily control this factors.

    I like the exploration of an unconventional topic. So do you plop the snails in the boiling water still alive, like a lobster? I was a bit unclear about what point they meet their demise.

    1 reply

    Put the snails in when the water is warm and bring to boil, this way the snails will slowly pop out of their shells .They're just easier to eat that way.

    Very nice job on your first inscrutable! Welcome to the community and may good fortune come your way in the distant future :)

    1 reply

    Thank you. Hopefully in the near future too :)