starting a snail farm

Congratulations on your first step in heliciculture or snail raising. Heliciculture has been practiced for centuries in Europe, but it is a fledgling industry in the United States. As such, there is much work to do in terms of creating a viable market, developing sustainable practices, and educating potential farmers in snail husbandry.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is educating others in the culinary and nutritional value of snails as a food source. Along with caring for and selling snails, that will be one of your chief duties.

The Snail Raising Association of North America exists mostly to raise the profile of heliciculture on this continent. Providing a forum for potential and existing farmers is one of the methods that will help us create this success. Another factor is ensuring responsible farming, processing and distribution practices that guarantee fresh, healthy and safe food for our clients and customers. This sense of quality and integrity will also go a long way to help break down state and federal policies that currently restrict the growth of this industry. One of our other goals is to end the prohibition that exists on interstate transport of live snails and eggs to promote business and provide farmers healthy stocks of snails in an interconnected network of farms across the U.S.

Feel free to peruse the site knowing that it is a developing endeavor. For those interested in taking your efforts to the next steps, we offer an initial one-hour, fee-based consultancy Skype/phone call. For complete information, email us

32 Comments Add yours

  1. Ezinne. Anyanwu says:

    Hi,I would like to learn more about your heliciculture program.I look forward to hearing from you.Thanks.

    Like

  2. Melinda Wright says:

    How can I order snails 🐌?
    venus7064@gmail.com

    Like

    1. Unfortunately live snails and eggs cannot be shipped across state lines. You’re best option is to forage within your state if the species exists there to get you start up livestock.

      Like

  3. i was looking into small business opportunities when I ran across snail farming. This has really peaked my interest and am going to start getting information on the rules and regulations in the state of illinois. If you have any tips or perhaps if i were to travel your way i could get a look at the snail raising process first hand.

    Like

    1. Unfortunately there are no good places in the US currently. USDA is doing everything in its power to ban snail farming in the US. The absolute best option is to visit the International Institute of Heliciculture in Cherasco, Italy.

      Like

  4. Even though there is so much information out there about heliciculture, my partner and I are still struggling with the decision to go forward with this. We have a small nest egg built up to start our own business and we both love the idea of a snailery (I grew up on a ranch and she on a farm). However, such a unique business for this continent makes us apprehensive about putting all our money into this only to find that the restrictions or smaller market will end up strangling us. Do you have any advice or reassurances that may help us?

    Like

    1. Hello! Thanks for your interest in heliciculture. Regulations on this industry still continue to be very restrictive—live snails or eggs cannot legally be transported across state lines without a federal permit which is nearly impossible to get (I’ve found only one instance of one being granted for snail farming in the last decade). This obviously limits your market for clients wanting live snails as well being able to obtain new stock or sell surplus stock to other farms. The new quarantine standards for quarantine facilities has also made it incredibly expensive to even begin such an endeavor with out-of-state stock even should you receive a permit. On top of that, some states ban entirely operating a farm. So first off, I would see if you state allows you to have a snail farm. If so, you might want to only obtain snails from in-state and operate more as a “boutique” business than rely on this to pay the bills!

      Like

  5. Sandy McDonald says:

    I live in Wi and have 20 HelixAspersa do I ltake the eggs out of pen or should I leave them in the dirt they were laid in ? I am starting to start a snailery learning as much as I can is it ok to mark your breeders with a marker or put them in separate pen ? Thank you Sandy

    Like

  6. Paschal Anyaibe says:

    Thanks Ric for your guidance ….I have been reading through the posts, interest and curiosity on snails abound, there is no stopping us.

    Like

  7. NICK SGOUROS says:

    I am from Europe and I grow with heliculture in my environment. I am looking into starting the business in the US.
    USDA is asking for particular enclosures fir farming. Yes only dead anilas can go interstate but still you can sale fresh frozen prduct.

    Like

    1. You can find the containment guidelines at the following link: https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/snails

      There are no limits on fresh frozen snails going across state lines. The only restriction is live snails and eggs.

      Like

    2. Melodi Wright says:

      I would like to purchase fresh frozen snails. I understand they can be frozen into a dormant state, then allowed to defrost for grown three and mating. Do you sale them? We live in TN

      Like

      1. That is not correct. USDA will only allow snails that are dead to cross state lines; they cannot be in a state of dormancy.

        Like

  8. okpalefe george says:

    please can you send me some pictures of snail pens

    Like

    1. I raise in open outdoor areas, so not using pens.

      Like

  9. Paul Andrews says:

    I’m looking at building a 5000 sq ft heliciculture greenhouse farm and would like to sell live snails within the state of New Jersey. I will be working with my lawyers. I would like to spend a month understudying snail farming with you. What do you say?

    Like

    1. Hi Paul. I’m about to begin construction on my quarantine facility so unfortunately I won’t have the time to do this. I wish you the best though.

      Like

  10. Sias says:

    Hi i want to start a snail farm in South Africa. Any advice please?

    Like

    1. Check with Stanley’s Snails which is located in SA. They might be more able to tell you about requirements to start a farm in that country.

      Like

  11. Ezekiel Esqueda says:

    Hello, I have been researching starting a snail farm, I am wanting to open the 1st Texas snail farm, as much as agriculture is massive here, where I am located is mostly cotton farms only. I am looking to determine how many snails I should start with though and how to get them live if I don’t have the permit yet and Helix Aspersa seems to be the way to go. I am really trying to look into Otala Lactea but would have to capture them in state most likely or do you know of any USA sellers? The internet just seems to not have any USA information. I have some research on your business and the ones in California and am laying the ground work for the cost to build a small farm and already have the land and site owned for open pens or greenhouse combination method. If you have any pointers or know of any good snail consultants that might be able to give any extra advice or mentoring or anything let me know. Thanks,

    Like

    1. Otala are edible though may be too small to be commercially viable. You will probably want to start small and get your growing area set up before purchasing any founding stock. Again, start with a couple dozen to get a system going, them you can always scale up.

      If you do end up applying for an getting a permit to transport live snails across state lines, you’ll be required to have a completely indoor growing operation. USDA will not allow snails brought in from another state to be grown outdoors and require an indoor containment facility be in place before granting the permit.

      I do perform consulting on growing, processing and marketing should you get to a point that you think you are ready.

      Like

      1. sarahbailly says:

        My husband and I would like to try raising snails. Any good books out there?

        Please go to the Resources section of our website for several papers on snail husbandry.

        Like

      2. Please visit the Resources page for several papers on husbandry.

        Like

  12. Dawn Sanford Coyle says:

    Hello and good day I live in Boerne, Texas. I am in process of starting a snail farm with Helix Pomatia. I have started indoors inside my home (these past few months) in containment units but am in process of enclosing them outdoors through expanding my back porch. I am excited at this venture and hope to learn all I am able. I started with 5 adult snails, then got another 12 adult snails from my breeder in Poland. They have laid eggs that I am also raising which now brings my total to 40 of both adult & juvenile. I have kept a journal of my process and have photos as well. I am looking at escargot & caviar as my specialty. I am interested in learning all I can. Also any grants for a business of this kind as well as any ideas, information or assistance I can acquire. Thank you so much. I look forward to this journey!!!!!! 😉

    Like

    1. Sounds like you have a good start. Be aware though that it’s highly illegal to import live snails from overseas. If caught, you would likely incur fines and confiscation of all your snails.

      Like

  13. hrhofeurope says:

    Thank you for your reply. I did check the USDA site to make sure I could have these and I found that these were ok for me to import. I hope I didn’t miss anything in my reading.

    Like

  14. It is illegal without a permit to transport live snails across state lines and completely illegal to import snails from outside the US.

    Like

  15. Stephanie France says:

    Hello, I have been researching what I can find about starting a snail farm. A few things confuse me. If you are growing vegetation in the pen for food and shelter, do they lay eggs in that soil as well? Do you put out separate soil for egg laying? How do you know when eggs have been laid so you can remove them? How do you replace or clean the dirt every 3 months? Sorry if these seem like dumb questions. TIA for your time!!

    Like

    1. You can do a completely indoor operation, completely outdoor, or a mix. If indoor or a mix, you can allow your breeders to lay in a controlled setting with containers of soil that you separate out the soil from the eggs for hatching. Once they hatch, they can be raised for a couple weeks and then transferred to an outdoor pen. Containers need to be checked regularly for eggs. If you have outdoor pens, you don’t need to do soil replacement. You will need to have new soil every few weeks in the indoor containers. But make sure all eggs are removed before disposing of or sterilizing soil before re-use.

      Like

  16. Pat G. says:

    What is the process to sterilize the indoor soil for reuse at a later date?

    Like

    1. Sterilizing Soil with Steam: sterilize potting soil and should be done for at least 30 minutes or until the temperature reaches 180 F. (82 C.).
      Sterilizing Soil with an Oven: You can also use the oven to sterilize soil. For the oven, put some soil (about 4 inches deep) in an oven-safe container, like a glass or metal baking pan, covered with foil at 180-200 F. (82-93 C.) for at least 30 minutes
      Sterilizing Soil with a Microwave: you can place two pounds of moist soil in a polypropylene bag. Put this in the microwave with the top left open for ventilation. Heat the soil for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on full power (650 watt oven).
      For quick sterilization of soil is intermittent sterilization for 3 consequent days is prescribed for soil sterilization.
      Sterilization by autoclaving can alter soil properties and this could be a problem if you want to compare your results with an “unsteralized group”. The sterilization of soil with gamma radiation (about 60 kGy, the dose depends on the biological activity of the material) is the best way to sterilize soil for your purposes

      Like

Leave a Reply to Dawn Sanford Coyle Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s