Heliciculture/Shipping Snails

Shipment Selection


Select only active snails for canning, processing or shipping. An inactive snail may be sick or dying. It is best to ship live snails (laws permitting) while dormant, between late Fall and early March, although it is then difficult to be sure they are "active." Inspect each snail to be sure it looks healthy. Put them in a container packed in ice to keep the temperature near (but not below) freezing to keep the snails dormant. When the weather warms up and the snails are active, they cannot be packed so closely in cartons. As live animals, you must handle them humanely. Some sources say not to ship live snails (H. pomatia) after June begins, as they no longer have good flavor. H. aspersa has a fragile shell until it matures and forms a lip, so immature snails are not commercially desirable.

Shipment Preparation


Snails tend not to eat during shipping. Do not provide food, as it will spoil and may make the snails sick or die. Purge the snails' digestive tracts to ensure that they are clear of grit or previously-eaten food. Three or 4 days before transporting, put the snails in a separate container without dirt or other kinds of food. Feed the snails cornmeal or bran for several days. As it passes through the digestive tract, it will clean out previously-eaten food. Stop feeding, but continue to supply water. Clean the pens and snails several times a day to keep out mucus and fecal matter.

Shipping Packages


Shipping cartons must have air holes, preferably screened to prevent escape or injury to the snails. Be careful not to injure snails with wires or staples when closing the carton. Also remember, snails can push upward against a barrier with a force equal to several times their own weight. Enough snails may cause the carton lids to pop off and may even loosen nails.