Heliciculture is the process of farming or raising edible land snails for human consumption. Snail farms may be outdoors; in buildings with a controlled climate; or in closed systems such as plastic tunnel houses or "greenhouses." In addition, snails may breed and hatch inside in a controlled environment and later be placed in outside pens to mature.
Highlights from the Stacks
History of Snail Farming
Edible Snails. E.W. Rust. Yearbook of Agriculture 1914. p. 491-503.
"Of Snails" in Roman Farm Management: The Treatises of Cato and Varro. Trans. "A Virginia Farmer," from Varro's Rerum Rusticarum, Libri III. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1913. pp. 325-327. Project Gutenberg e-book edition.
Snail Farming and Research
References on the farming and research of Helix pomatia or Cornu aspersum (formerly Helix aspersa) resulting from a Google Scholar search.
Article describes farming edible land snails, snail species, processing snails, and U.S. restrictions and regulations.
Farming Snails 2: Choosing Snails; Care and Harvesting; Further Improvement (PDF | 2.1 MB)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
This Better Farming Series booklet addresses how to select and care for snails, when and how to build a second pen, how to harvest snails, and more.
Feasibility of Snail Farming as a Model for Small Urban Farms to Expand into Niche Markets for Increased Profitability (PDF)
A. Grilla, C. LaJeunesse, D. McMaster, D. Morgan. Qualifying Project. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Research report submitted to university faculty. According to the report: The goal of our project was to advise Higher Ground Farm on the feasibility of snail farming as a model for small urban farms to expand into niche markets for increased profitability.
Regulations, Permits and Restrictions
Regulated Organism and Soil Permits: Snails and Slugs
USDA. APHIS. Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Division.
This Web page details USDA PPQ Plant Pest Permits required for the importation or interstate movement of live snails, and certain restrictions on the culture, release or interstate movement of snails. The page states: USDA will authorize interstate movement of live snails for the purpose of establishing a snail farm. A PPQ 526 plant pest permit is required for snails that are agricultural pests. The permit applicant must obtain, in writing, State Agricultural Official concurrence before a movement permit will be issued.
Containment Guidelines for Nonindigenous, Phytophagous Mollusks ( pdf | 33 KB )
USDA. APHIS. Plant Protection and Quarantine.
Purpose of the document: These guidelines are a reference to help design, build, maintain, and operate a facility for nonindigenous, phytophagous mollusks: including Cornu aspersum (Helix aspersa, Cryptomphalus asperses), Cantareus apertus (Helix aperta), Eobania vermiculata (Otala vermiculata), Helix pomatia, and Otala lacteal.
Low-acid Canned Food
USDA. Food and Drug Administration.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the canning of low-acid foods such as snails. Federal Regulations require commercial processors of shelf stable acidified foods and low-acid canned foods in a hermetically sealed container to be sold in the United States to register each establishment and file scheduled processes with the Food and Drug Administration for each product, product style, container size and type and processing method (21 CFR 108). Instructions are available on the web site.