You may read the first part of this write up here: Starting snail farm in Ghana 1 of 2.
Snails are vegetarian and will accept many types of food. Snails avoid plants that have hairy leaves or produce toxic chemicals, like physic nut (Jathropa curcas). Young snails prefer tender leaves and shoots; they consume about twice as much feed as mature snails.
As they get older, mature snails increasingly feed on detritus: fallen leaves, rotten fruit and humus. Older snails should be fed the same items as immature snails. If a change in the diet has to be made, the new food items should be introduced gradually.
Some recommended food items
Leaves: cocoyam, kola, pawpaw, cassava, okra, eggplant, loofa, centrosema, cabbage and lettuce. Pawpaw leaves (as well as its fruit and fruit peels) stand out in many trials as a good snail food.
Fruits: pawpaw, mango, banana, eggplant, pear, oil palm, fig, tomato and cucumber. Fruits are usually rich in minerals and vitamins but low in protein.
Tubers: cocoyam, cassava, yam, sweet potato and plantain. Tubers are a good source of carbohydrates, though low in protein. (Cassava should be the low-cyanide type).
Flowers: oprono (Mansonia altissima), odwuma (Musanga cecropoides) and pawpaw.
Household waste: peels of fruit and tuber, like banana, plantain, pineapple and yam.
Farming should preferably start at the onset of the wet season, because that is the time snails normally start to breed.
A breeding snail may lay one to three egg masses (clutches) per season.
In west African snails, large differences have been observed in egg production within and between populations. The average size of egg mass produced by the various ecotypes studied in Ghana, for example, ranged from 38 to 563 eggs.
Generally, snails lay between 100 and 400 eggs. The eggs are broadly oval and measure about 5 mm long. They are
usually laid in round-shaped holes dug 2-5 cm deep in the soil.
They usually hatch 12-20 days after laying. The incubation period is around 4 weeks. Hatchlings remain underground for 2-5 days after hatching.
Little is known of the diseases which attack Snails in West Africa. As snail farming increases in popularity, more research will probably focus on this area.
The main disease that has been reported to date is a fungal disease, spread through physical contact by the snails licking slime from each other’s bodies.
The two major diseases affecting European species may also affect African species, because the organisms that cause these diseases do occur in the natural range of Snails.
The first is a bacterial disease, caused by Pseudomonas; it leads to intestinal infections that may spread rapidly amongst dense snail populations.
The second disease is caused by the fungus Fusarium, which parasitises the eggs of Helix aspersa. The affected eggs turn reddish-brown and development stops. This disease is commonly referred to as ‘rosy eggs disease’.
Basic hygiene prevents the spread of diseases. Pens should be cleaned out regularly to remove excreta and uneaten food, as well as any other decaying matter that may serve as substrate for pathogenic organisms.
It is also advisable to sterilise the soil in hutch boxes by steaming or heating every time they are being prepared for a new batch of egg clutches (i.e. when the breeders are transferred to the boxes for egg laying).