Before starting to breed snails, it is good to know this animal a little better, to learn to understand its characteristics, only by understanding the needs and the life cycle of these snails can you begin to reproduce you correctly.
The snail is a hermaphroditic gastropod mollusc, the gastronomic species which are the subject of heliculture are all called Helix. It is an insufficient hermaphrodite: that is, each individual, although it possesses the reproductive apparatus, both male and female, is not capable of fertilizing by itself, but must have a mating partner.
Snail farming is obviously a key step for snail farmers, as breeding activity determines the growth of the breeding population and therefore the profits of the heli-keeper.
When breeding snails
The life cycle of the farm snail
When snails breed
The mating period of snails it is from may to november and it is the healthy adult snails that reproduce, i.e. at least two years and they are in perfect health. A snail is capable of producing on average hundred eggs each time it mates, after about 20 days it goes into hiding. The eggs laid will hatch after about 20 more days, weather permitting, giving rise to fully formed snails.
every snail friends 3-4 times a year and given the high number of eggs produced, one can get an idea of how these shells can proliferate if the breeding is properly managed. The fact that they are hermaphrodites means a double production: all snails have the possibility of laying eggs, while among the sexual animals only the females give birth to the young.
The way snails reproduce is long and very curious: the mating phase can last up to 24 hours, usually from sunset to the next sunrise. The two snails approach and remain attached to each other near the head, with a strong white thread. At this stage of reproduction, it is impossible to separate them manually: this should never be done to avoid serious damage to the two snails.
About three weeks after mating, spawning takes place. Snails lay their eggs underground, where they wait another twenty days before hatching. Eggs are small round spheres, their peculiarity is that they are extremely resistant and almost impossible to break.
When the eggs hatch, the snail inside is already fully formed. During the first days after hatching, the snails still stay in the nest and feed on the unhatched eggs as they are rich in protein. After a few days, they rise to the surface and begin their “very slow” life. The first period is certainly the most important for growth because, after leaving the nest, if they find enough fresh and authentic food, they double the volume of their small shell in a very short time. Obviously, the task of the breeder is to ensure that, especially in this delicate phase, there is no shortage of food and that the living conditions are calm and healthy. So the growth slows down a bit and then of course continues.
Considering the life of the little snail in the brood, its childhood is spent between mothers and daughters, it is like a big family that lives in the middle of lush vegetation without any disturbance.
As winter approaches, small and large snails prepare for hibernation, a period during which they will hibernate underground, sleeping until the following spring, and in any case until the outside temperatures stabilize d at least 20 degrees. During hibernation, snails form what is called the “operculum”, i.e. a white patina that protects them from everything that happens outside, i.e. that it is as if they closed the door of the house and reopened it in the spring.
Waking up from winter hibernation is another important milestone for growth, as it is a culmination point to nearly complete growth and finally become an adult.
On the part of breeders, it is essential that they continue to find the right fresh foods so that they can get the vitamins they need. The correct and continuous feeding factor remains one of the main cornerstones of good snail development and breeding success.
The life cycle of the farm snail
In the wild, snails usually take several years to reach adulthood and thus harden and shape their shell, the basic characteristics of a snail to be ready for sale. In culture, the biological growth time of snails is about one year, which is much shorter than the life cycle of the snail in the wild. In fact, in a helicoidal system correctly followed by the breeder, our animals will have all the well-being they need, from food always available and fresh, to adequate humidity due to the daily irrigation of the enclosures.
Once they have the hard shell and rim, they complete their growth cycle. However, it must be remembered that the “mares”, that is, the mothers, in order to benefit from maximum fertility, must be at least two years old, otherwise, with each mating, the eggs that would be produced would be fine lower. of a hundred These data are essential to take into account when planning which snails to collect and which to leave as broodmares in the enclosure.