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Snails/escargot

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  • Here's the link to the original seafood miso soup http://health.ninemsn.com.au/dietandnutrition/campaign1/693691/chiva-som-seafood-miso-soup (It was also featured in John Tickell's The Great Australian Diet: Recipe Book.)

    ...I'd be inclined to try preboiling the snails (in the pressure cooker or a slow cooker) with some grated daikon, and them using them in place of the seafood in the soup. :-)

  • @kerri - looks like my snails are also waking up and eating at night, so maybe I don't need to heat them... would be much easier that way :-)

  • @calytrix, even when warm my snails hide away at the lid at daytime and eat at night. Remember though, unlike many bugs snails need as many daylight hours as they can get so I keep them in clear(ish) containers. I think from memory that they will grow faster with heat, and they are relatively slow growers (2-3 months for adult size). You will read about the need to purge them for a week before cooking to rid the gut of dangerous foods (like rat poo!) but that would only apply to the huge farms that grow them outdoor I imagine, in tubs they only eat safe foods anyway -Best to wash your carrots and veg the same as you would if you cooked the veg normally. Purging can either mean no food at all or just one type of food. I think I might starve mine for just a few days to empty the gut of poos, then wash and freeze. You can boil or fry in the shell to kill them but I just don't have the heart - I'm a bit of a softy! X_X

  • No eggs yet - I think they might be too cold to feel very amorous... (mid-winter in south-western Australia; 14 deg C = 57F right now at 3pm) may need to provide some supplementary heat.

  • Strange that when they mate they go at it for hours and hours... but I've never seen it -so shy! :-S

  • @kerri (in response to your query in the other thread), no, I didn't have any eggs yet when I checked a day or two ago. I'm wondering whether it's a day-length issue - I read somewhere that optimal breeding conditions for Helix aspersa are 20 degC days with 17degC nights and 18 hrs sun / 6hrs darkness (and a humidity level that I can't remember offhand). Current Perth daytime temperatures are above 20 degC, but nights are below 17 degC and we'd have less than 12hrs daylight at the moment, so I've put some dark grey paving slabs (~50mm thick) in the base of their tub to even out the temperatures, and put a $5 solar LED garden spotlight from Bunnings on top to lengthen the hous of light. It's only been a few days since I did that, so hopefully they'll get their act into gear soon! :-) How deep is the soil in your egg-laying containers? I've got 1 litre rectangular "disposable" takeaway containers, but I was wondering whether they were deep enough.

    I also read in one of the RIRDC references that only snails of mature size >32mm (across their widest diameter from underneath) should be bred - I didn't actually have any that big from my garden, so I've just kept the mature ones which were 29mm or larger. (Apparently they're mature and won't grow bigger once the ridge around the shell opening hardens - it's flexible or absent in immature specimens.)

    One other thing I read was that Helix aspersa need a period of hibernation to breed well. The literature says they will hibernate below 4 degC, but from the months Sonya Begg found that they hibernated in Orange, New South Wales (Australia, FYI for non-Aussies), and the climate data for Orange on the Bureau of Meteorology website, it looks more like an average overnight minimum closer to 2 degC, which looks to me like they're unlikely to hibernate at all in Perth (or Geelong) - have you noticed any of yours hibernating over the winter? Given that I've collected mine crawling around in mid-winter, I don't think they do here, but they obviously do breed! ...so I'm not sure whether it would be worth trying an artificial hibernation (in the fridge? Would need to do something about air supply...) or not.

    Will definitely let you know once I get some eggs!

    PS. Congrats on the football... Shame Freo couldn't kick straighter! ;-)

  • Hi @Calytrix, I use about 3-4 cm (1 1/2 ins) depth of soil which works well for laying, but I still have a high rate of dead eggs... I don't think that would be soil depth though. perhaps it's because the tubs are see through and eggs should be kept dark like they are under the soil... I'll try that for a while. I also haven't had any eggs laid for about 8 wks now even though warmed. Must be the winter blues I think, so stay in there, when they start you won't believe your eyes. Promise. Interesting about hibernation, I might allow my 1st generation batch a rest from the warmth then.

  • Cuttlefish. I finally found some at a large pert store and sawed each into 1/3rds. They need the calcium for their shells... I was grinding up eggshells and using supplement.

  • Most egg clutches have failed to hatch for a while now- they just rot. They are in clear plastic containers so I thought... eggs are naturally laid underground in the dark. So I covered the container in black tape... and they have hatched! This is just one clutch, but it makes sense.

  • Really awesome to read about all this - great job, @kerri!!

    Inspired by your work I finally tracked down a US supplier of live snails:

    www.snailsinthemail.com

    There are lots of restrictions around shipping snails across state lines. These guys are located in California (luckily for us) but they have various means of helping you get your snails wherever in the US you are.

  • @dansitu it would be interesting to know what they sell for and if they are OK for human consumption. Both @Calytrix and I are in Australia but we could convert the $$'. They would be quite easy to mail. I've been putting paper towel in half of the 'floor' space which soaks up water preventing drowning and also increases humidity.

  • I think I read in one of the RIRDC docs that it's illegal to import new species of snail into Australia - I'd be surprised if AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) let them through... (Sonya Begg just asked local residents in Orange to collect Helix aspersa from their gardens for her, and selected the best ones for her trials there - I think it was also suggested that this also had the advantage that they were acclimatised to the local conditions.)

    http://www.bugshop.com.au/p/8747935/snail-life-cycle-kit.html has an option to add a pair of Australian Rainforest Snails (and the site says she can post anywhere in Australia), but the combined kit costs about AUD 60, I have no idea whether they're edible, and I expect they'd need a fair bit of climate control to do well in southern Australia. I think I'll stick to my H aspersa :-) ...if they ever decide to breed!!! ;-)

  • I agree @calytrix, our local variety is apparently as good as French snails. I wouldn't want to take the risk of introducing a problem species. I've heard that you can buy banned species on the net, you may not even realise. One friend of mine got 100 out of his garden 4 me, it's just getting the right night, right conditions. Interesting thought that you could package and sell these for pet consumption at (I think) up to $1 each, but how would you guarantee a steady supply? That may be why you can't easily get them where you can buy crickets. I might ask "Best Friends" if they would like some seasonally, they did ask me to tell them when I had some- seemed interested.

  • STOP PRESS!!! I have eggs, @kerri!!! :-) I was cleaning out my snail tub on Saturday, lifted up one of the egg-laying dishes, and lo and behold... (drum roll, please...) a clutch of eggs! :-)

    I'm not sure how well they'll do, because it was quite rainy here last week, and the bottom of my whole snail habitat tub was flooded (and the egg-laying sand looked pretty wet, too, although it was above the flooding level in the main tub), so I've now drilled a 2.5mm hole in each corner of the habitat tub, and 4 x 2.5mm holes in the bottom of each side of the egg-laying dish, so hopefully they haven't drowned... but in any case, at least two of my snails have obviously figured out what to do! :-)

    I'm thinking I'll get another tub to incubate the eggs in and grow up the babies (may need more in time, but I think I'll start with one for the moment - the UV-resistant plastic tubs are a bit pricey!

  • Congratulations! I have to get back on task myself and get more breeders from the garden. I just spent a week at a conference in your beautiful city... 1st time there and VERY impressed. (Great weather!). Spring has sprung and all bugs are breeding, it gets to be fun from now on.

  • @ calytrix - breeding season is almost upon us... hold on tight and have those dirt tubs at the ready. I'm hoping that we can finally really get into a conversation on how to keep most of the little blighters alive after hatching... Another breeder on line would be good too. "The common garden snail (also known as Heli aspersa) has a life span between 2 and 5 years and can lay between 90 and 130 eggs within a few weeks".

  • @kerri @calytrix if we are lucky in California this year and have any rain this coming winter, we'll probably be collecting some of our own helix aspersa and trying our hand at breeding them as well

  • edited September 2014

    @Andrew, I am so pleased. Also, to save you some trouble, I noticed, and an expert backed me on this... spraying hose water to bring out your "wild' snails to play won't work... they seem to know what real rain is!

  • @kerri, glad you enjoyed Perth - I'll admit to being a bit biased, but I think it's beautiful, too :-) ...and yes, spring has definitely sprung here!!! I've had to wear a hat in the garden for the past two days (too hot without it!).

    I still haven't had any hatchlings yet, but can still see eggs at the bottom of the laying container. I'm hoping I haven't cooked them... I've had to put the snail tub in some shade now, but I'm afraid it got pretty warm beforehand. (...not sure quite how warm - the thermometer I was using stopped working after it got rained on) :-( ...need to put in new batteries now that I've dried it out and see whether it will work again...

  • @calytrix. This has been my most difficult time... turning eggs into babies.... After that stage, then I have found WAY too many baby shells 'sans-babies'. Leave those empty shells in there (squish them to crumble) - they provide calcium for the live ones. Glad you have babies... how many batches? Going on last years rates you should soon have more than enough to keep you busy! This is good because we can experiment together with an excess of eggs to work with.

  • Tiny farms are considering breeding snails. I am Very pleased because it is harder to learn without others to chat with. Too many snail related you tube videos and advice sites are about large-scale out door farms, but all I want is to breed enough for one person to eat. So how does it work in your spare-room mini-ranch/farm?... I have not found even one site out there. I wonder. Is this because it won't work in small tubs? (doubt it) - Do I need to keep larger tubs in a back yard hot house set up? (for my many 'wild breeder snails' I think yes.)

  • What I love about snails is that they are the meatiest bug for the plate. Being a (low-scale) vegetarian this is what I want.

  • Hey Kerri,

    As I don't know the first thing about snails, this thread is very interesting. Thanks for all the updates you are placing here.

    Keep up the good work! Maybe you eventually could write a clear guide about the rearing of snails?

    Have a nice day!

  • hi @kerri what kind of snails do you raise? in indonesia as far iknow, only achatina fulica.

  • Helix Aspergia. Common in many countries.

  • I add to my edible snails now from the garden. As long as you "purge" them for a week to get any nastys out of their digestive system (I purge for a month to be sure, considering neighbors' poisons). Put them in a plastic box, feed them carrots, spray water daily... then cook. You are caring for the planet and eating well. They bred well last summer, but I've been distracted this year.

  • Snail (limpet) teeth stronger than Kevlar! (2015)"Extreme strength observed in limpet teeth"; free full text= http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/12/105/20141326

  • @kerri just started with helix aspersa, thank you for your information. very helpful, very cool. reading about your experiences was one of the reasons i have started. here is my set up, cant wait to get them laying. here they are hanging out at the top of our curtain style housing. will post more when i get home.image

  • woke up to this today! exciting.

    image

  • Why has this discussion stopped?

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