From the descriptions of the three major GALS species it is clear that snails, as cold-blooded animals, are sensitive to changes in atmospheric humidity and temperature. GALS, especially Achatina fulica, are able to put up with a range of conditions, but when temperature and/or humidity are not to their liking, they go into dormancy. The snail retracts its entire body inside its shell, sealing off the opening with a white, calcareous layer to prevent water loss from the body. This reaction is typical of all snail species.
Aestivating snail sealed into its shell by a calcareous layer. Snails aestivate if the temperature is too high, > c. 30 °C, or if air humidity is too low, < c. 70-75% relative humidity. Snails hibernate if the temperature drops below c. 5 °C.
For the snail farmer the result is the same: his (or her) snails become inactive and stop growing, losing valuable growing time, while expenses for housing, tending and protection continue.
Consequently, it is in the snail farmer’s interest to prevent, or at least reduce, dormancy by selecting the most favorable site for the snail farm by providing good housing for the snails, by providing good feed and ensuring good snail farm management
Obviously, it is possible to farm snails in a completely controlled environment, but this would require considerable investment costs, and is therefore presumably outside the scope of the farmers for whom this Agrodok is intended.
Without artificial climate control, successful commercial snail farming is more or less restricted to areas with the following characteristics:
- Temperature: a steady year-round temperature of 25-30 °C, and a low fluctuation between day-time and night-time temperatures.
- Day-length: a fairly constant 12/12-hour photo-period throughout the year.
- Air humidity: a year-round relative air humidity of 75-95%.
These conditions correspond to the tropical rainforest climate zones and they work best when there is no pronounced dry season or strong fluctuations.
Cultural and Religious restrictions on Handling and Eating snails
Certain religions, notably the Islamic and Jewish faiths, specifically prohibit eating snails or snail meat a fact to be considered when planning a snail farming venture in regions where these religions are present or dominant.
Local customs or cultural preferences may prevent people from eating or even handling snails – again a factor to take into account before embarking on snail farming.