Snail Farming in Nigeria: a Comprehensive Guide

Snail farming in Nigeria is one of the thriving agricultural businesses in the country, with high demand and low competition. Snail farming, also called Heliculture, is a very profitable venture that several farmers in Nigeria have not been paying maximum attention to. Perhaps you are not such a farmer who would shy away from snail farming in Nigeria; then you are looking at a lucrative farming business to invest in.

Although snails are commonly available in several Nigerian neighborhoods and bushes, especially those of the south, hunting for sails in the bushes could be tedious and, most times, not yield considerable quantity, especially during the dry season when the snails go into hibernation. Deforestation is another threat to natural snail habitats, so traditional snail hunting is no longer sustainable. These factors, like deforestation, low availability during the dry season and higher demand for snails, led to the focus on snail farming in Nigeria.image for Snail Farming in Nigeria

Understanding Snail Farming

Snails are characteristically slow and slimy, and that’s a lot of how the business looks. Return on investment in snail farming could go at snail speed. Unless you are a Spongebob (Video Cartoon Series) fan, not many people out there, especially in Nigeria, keep snails as pets, so the practical reason for snail farming is either for consumption as food or for slime and other snail products. The majority of snail demand in Nigeria is as food. Snail farming is not a get-rich-quick enterprise; it takes an average of two years of dedication to start making a reasonable profit in snail farming. This is because it takes an average of two years for most snail species to mature.

Two categories of Snail Farming in Nigeria

There are two categories of snail farming practiced in Nigeria. They are Traditional/Subsistence  Snail farming and Modern/Large-scale snail farming.

Traditional or subsistence snail farming is the native practice of snail farming, where locals create small-scale snail farms, usually after a successful snail hunt or after buying from the local snail hunters. Small-scale snail farming is usually practiced using broken local clay pots or building a small shelter for the snails where they are fed with grasses and other available materials in the environment. Subsistence snail farming usually has a smaller number of snails.

Modern snail farming has to do with large-scale farming of the animal; it doesn’t chiefly rely on hunted snails, nor does it chiefly rely on the snail species available in the locality; large-scale production can outsource the snail or even the eggs then hatch, food for both modern snail farming and traditional snail farming are nearly same however the scale drastically changes for large scale farming, also although snails are less likely to need extensive veterinary attention than other farm animals, it should be noted that we recommend that modern snail farming should include occasional veterinary consultation and standard animal care practice. Aside from veterinary care, proper snail farm housing and associated facilities should also be considered.

Traditional and modern snail farming in Nigeria is lucrative; however, traditional snail farming and hunting are more popular. Still, modern snail farming in Nigeria is growing and even more profitable.

How to Start Traditional  Snail Farming in Nigeria

Traditional snail farming is the easiest to set up; usually, this type of snail farming is practiced in rural areas where there’s enough greenery. The local snail farmer can start with a handful of snails at about ten snails. Requiring a small space, this type of farming can be done with a collection of local clay pots. Also, a small makeshift snail housing is usually built with building blocks, of which more blocks could be added to expand the snail house as the snail grows or reproduces.

Once the clay pot or the makeshift blocks are set up, it is time to introduce some snails to the farm. For the locals, this snail could be gotten from the local snail hunter, hunted for by the farmer or from the local market. Then snail farming starts.

Snail food

Snails are diverse eaters, easily adapted to the traditional rearing method. Regarding feeding habits, most species of snails are not very selective; they eat just about anything. The fact that snails eat just about anything in the wild doesn’t mean that rearing snails at home or on the farm doesn’t have to account for snail food.

Several of the snail foods available in the wild may not be easily accessible at home or snail farms; as such, most traditional snail farmers rely on different classes of grasses. Grasses are preferable in traditional snail farming as they can be easily sourced in large quantities in most Nigerian neighborhoods; for large-scale farming, a combination of grasses and other types of snail food can be adopted.

How to Start Modern Snail Farming in Nigeria

Modern snail farming in Nigeria is becoming a popular farming practice; the first thing to consider in the snail farming business would be building your snail pens or farmhouses. Well, don’t think too much; it is just a house for snails, so it doesn’t always need a complex structure, although sometimes it could be more because the snails would be cared for by people, and that aspect should be considered while building your snail farm.

Building Your Snail Pen

The snail pen refers to the house or environment for your snails; it is where your snail would live, grow and hatch depending on your type and purpose of snail farming. You should build three different pens if you intend to raise hatchlings (young or baby snails) on your farm. The first pen is for the parent snails or the breeders, the second pen is for the incubation of the eggs, and the third pen is for the nursery; most of your snails would pass through this three-life circle in your farm, which is the egg (incubation stage pen), nursery (from hatchlings to a considerate growth range), to adult or breeders pen.

What to know about the Reproduction in Snails

Reproduction is one key aspect of animal husbandry; nearly every farmer wants real-time growth. This reproduction aspect helps to sustain the farm in the long run and ensures that we always have new snails; lucky for snail farmers or intending snail farmers, snails are hermaphrodites, which means an individual snail possesses both male and female reproductive features. In this case, snail farmers don’t have to worry whether they need a particular number of male or female snails; reproduction would certainly go on in your snail farm. It doesn’t matter the gender distribution so long as the snails are healthy.

Snails reach reproductive maturity between 8 months and one year; once reproductive maturity is reached, a typical snail is ready to lay eggs, which could be as high as 10 to 20 eggs per clutch and even more depending on the species of snail and other factors, typically some snails could have up to 5 clutches a year, usually, it takes roughly six weeks for these eggs to hatch. Naturally, snails lay their eggs in or on the soil, so we recommend that your snail farm soil be loose and moist, loamy or sandy to make it possible for the snails to lay their eggs in or on such soil easily.

To ensure that the majority of the eggs get hatched, it is appropriate to pick the snail eggs from the parent pen and transfer the eggs to another pen primarily for incubation and hatching the eggs; this is partly to avoid complications that could arise if the snail eggs are left at the parent pen. Such complications like adult snails weighing down on the egg and potentially cracking them is a scenario that can be avoided if snail eggs are separated from their parent’s pen. While we recommend that the soil be moist in the parent’s pen, the level of moistness there may sometimes not be in the best interest of the eggs as the pen could sometimes get overly wet and waterlogged, thereby creating conditions that may not be very appropriate for the eggs. For this reason, Niger Investor recommends that for more successful snail farming in Nigeria, intending snail farmers ought to create a different pen for snail egg incubation.

Collecting your snail eggs from the breeder or parent pen to the hatchery or incubation pen must be handled with extreme care; it requires careful tilling of the soil and picking the snail eggs NOT with your hands but a plastic spoon; there’s a phenomenon behind snail eggs where it becomes less likely to hatch if picked with the bare hands.

Preparing the incubation pen 

The incubation pen is very important in modern snail farming; once the eggs are collected in the parent’s pen, there are a few important steps to take to ensure that the majority of your snail eggs get hatched.

Ensure that the soil is suitable: Like the parent’s pen, the suitable soil for the snail incubation pen is loamy or a mix of loamy and sandy soil. The moisture content of the soil also has to be considered; it shouldn’t be dry soil, nor should it be waterlogged; it has to be moist, not waterlogged, and not dry.

After ensuring that the soil is suitable, make shallow holes in the soil, place your eggs in the holes, remember with your plastic spoon once again, also take note of each egg per hole and cover the hole, but this time NOT with much soil, remember we are dealing with eggs here, and too much soil on top could damage the eggs, aside the eggs, you don’t also want too much weight on the newly hatched snails when they finally hatch.

You should note how many eggs per hole; 10 to 20 eggs per hole could be appropriate. Remember, the hole should be shallow and relatively expanded in diameter to contain the eggs comfortably. The notes should also include the number of eggs in each hole and the day the eggs were introduced to the incubation pen; this will give hints on the potential due date. We recommend that the note be pinned near the hole or find a way to mark the hole for easier tracing. It usually takes 21 to 35 days for eggs of most snail species to hatch.

Caring for the snail egg incubation pen

The moistness of the incubation pen is very critical to the performance of the snail eggs. Snail farming in Nigeria must include routine care for the incubation pen to sustain moistness. Given the hot weather in Nigeria, this aspect of snail farming in Nigeria has to be paid utmost attention to; this is because once the soil around the snail eggs loses its moistness, the snail eggs may begin to experience dryness, which is not good for the eggs. To keep the snail egg incubation pen moist, we recommend that water is LIGHTLY spayed on the pen daily; the pen should NOT be flooded. NOTE that this recommendation applies to snail farming in Nigeria; people in colder Geography may not need to spray water on their snail egg incubation pen daily.

Hatchery Due Date

After 21 days of providing adequate care for your snail egg incubation pen, it is time to check on your snails; most times, all of the eggs don’t hatch at the same time; in this case, you have to check to find the ones that have hatched, uncover the hole and pick the hatched snails then transfer them to the nursery while covering back the yet to be hatched snail with light soil; continue using the plastic spoon even at this stage. Cover the yet-to-be-hatched eggs again with light soil and continue caring for the incubation pen for another fourteen days. Note that it is not guaranteed that all the eggs must hatch as such that any egg that did not hatch after a total of 35 days may as well be concluded.

It is important to set up the nursery pen beforehand; this is because keeping the hatchlings (young snails) and the yet-to-be-hatched eggs together could lead to the young snails eating the shells of the yet-to-be-hatched snails as they need the calcium from the egg for shell development however a mixture of calcium-rich nutrients addition to the nursery soil could be a source of calcium for proper shell development for the little snails.


It has been a long read, but if you have come this far in reading about the Snail farming business in Nigeria, you would be patient enough to digest the very bone of the content. The profitability of snail farming is high once you have endured the snail speed of investment maturity. Unlike several other ventures, snail farming isn’t quite capital-intensive, but you must be dedicated and patient. Snail farming is also best practiced in rural or agricultural communities where snail food like grass, cassava peels and several other kinds of snail food abound. Since snail farming is not very capital intensive, depending on the species, profit can be high.

We can only give a rough estimate of how profitable the snail business can be; still, a snail business started with one million naira, where about N300,000 (three hundred thousand naira) is used to build the snail pen with about 4,00,000 (four hundred thousand) used to procure about 5000 young snails at the price of N80 (eighty naira) each. At the same time, the remaining N300,000 would be kept for other farm expenditures and unforeseen circumstances.

Perhaps we followed the above estimate and set up our snail farm with N1,000,000 (one million nairas). These snails could grow into adults in about two years, when they would be sold for around N380 (three hundred and eighty naira) each. This could turn out to yield over 1.5 million nairas in two years, and if they were to be kept for longer, they could lay thousands of eggs and bring in thousands of new snails; noteworthy is that you don’t have to build a new structure in about two years when the return chain truly begins. This level of profitability takes approximately two years, and the longer the farm flourishes, the larger the gain.

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