In snail farming, one of the most critical decision you will make is choosing a snail species to rear or breed. Snail rearing is interesting no doubt but also can be challenging sometimes. One of such challenges is knowing the different species of snails available and of course properly making a choice of the species to raise.
In reality, there are a thousand snail types/species/breeds available on earth. Some are common to some countries or geographical location. Also, not all the snail species are economical to rear.
In Nigeria and Africa in general, there are basically three 3 suitable snail species common to snail farmers in Nigeria and these are generally referred to as the Giant African Land Snails (GALS). Examples of Giant African land snails are;
- Archatina marginata (AM)
- Achatina achatina (AA)
- Achatina fulica (AF)
The Archatina Marginata or simply AM is commonly found in the forest along the coast of West Africa. It is often referred to as the “big black snail” or “giant snail”. The AM is the most common snail species found in Nigeria.
The shell has a mottled color of black, brown and white and very thick. The shell collar is usually pinkish in colour. The skin color is dark grey.
There is also a special breed of the AM with white skin often called the Albino snails. This albino breed is not readily available as the normal breed.
At maturity, the AM can grow as long as 11 to 19cm and weighs btw 600 to 800 grams or more.
The AM can grow to full size in their natural habitat from 12 to 14months or more. They lay btw 5 to 15eggs per clutch and lays 2 to 3 times in a year which can see them laying between 40 to 80 eggs per year as the case may be.
The shell is less pointed than the Achatina Achatina species but rather blunt in outlook.
The pic below is a sample pic of an Achatina marginata (AM).
Achatina achatina (AA)
The Achatina Achatina (AA), also known as the Giant Tiger land snail is one of the snail species peculiar to the African continent. It is common in countries like Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo, and Liberia as the case may be.
The AA is popularly referred to as Ghana tiger snail because it is mainly found in Ghana. The extra giant size
and the designs on the shell. It has a yellowish and darkish spine on the shell which has close similarity with the colour of the tiger. The AA has a very pointed tail just like the Achatina Fulica (AF). It usually has 7 or more “round-curved” rings on its shell. The AA does not grow as fast as the AM but can eventually grow big in the long run. It is also good for business, but it requires patience and demands extra care because it is very fragile. It is more delicate to breed compared to the AM.
The AA lays between 200 to 500 eggs per clutch and can do so at least 2 to 3 times in a year. The Achatina Achatina (AA) eggs take between 21 to 32 days to hatch.
AA has its own uniqueness from AM. One of such is the rate of egg production. AA and AF snails reproduce rapidly unlike the AM. Although, AM eggs are usually bigger in size compared to AA and AF snails that are smaller in size.
See image below for an illustration of the AA.
Achatina Fulica (AF)
Achatina Fulica (AF) is another type of the Giant African Land Snail family., though not as commonly found in countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, etc. It is available also in Nigeria. The most common trait of the AF is its egg production rate. The AF lays numerous eggs just like the AA. It lays up to 200 to 400 eggs in a clutch and can lay up to 2 to 3 times in a year.
The AF snail funnily referred to as the “City Girl” and also known as the garden snail is a snail that can grow up to 20 cm in length or occasionally more, with a shell length up to 20cm and a maximum diameter of 12cm. It is conical, the spiraled shell is predominantly brown with weak, dark banded markings across the spiral. One other major physical characteristic of the Achatina fulica is that it has a pointed tail just like the AA.
The AF is smaller in size compared to AM and AA. The snail size also reflects on the size of its eggs. AF pics and Eggs are similar to AA eggs.
Image Source: http://www.columbia.edu