How to (and how not to) start a snail farm

I receive many inquiries each month from other intrepid souls interested in starting their own escargot farms. While as a kindred snail soul I share their interest and enthusiasm, I do have to repeatedly offer the same advice: spend more time planning than the actual execution of your plan. Unless you’re figuring on just small scale, such as for your own and your friends’ enjoyment, a large-scale, commercial snail farm is a very difficult and involved endeavor. Snails are remarkable fickle creatures and are more likely to end up eating every in your own (and your neighbors’ gardens) than populating in numbers suitable for appearing on tables at your nearby restaurants.

snail on plantSo here are a few tips to get you started:

  • read everything you can about snails. Live it. Breathe it. Like raising any animal, you have to know if inside and out in order for it to be happy and healthy and successfully reproduce, especially when destined for your plate.
  • learn about local regulations. In most U.S. states, it’s actually illegal to commercially grow snails and our friends from USDA will be happy to visit and let you know. So know before you grow.
  • define your space to grow. Do you have just a backyard or 20 acres? Who will you sell to? How will you get the snails to them? How will you feed, harvest and package them? There are a million questions and two million answers. Make both a business plan and a growing/reproduction plan before you get started. There are resources available, but you have to look long and hard. I won’t help you with that!