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Helix aspersa maxima

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Breakfast in bed for the molluscs

muller 1

I know it's Saturday morning and time for breakfast in bed for us Monday to Friday workers, but just look at this lazy creature who can't be bothered to stretch out from under the duvet. He hasn't even got his antennae fully extended - just peeping to see where the food is and trying to slide towards it without using too much energy.

We've got two different strains of the same species of snail. We call them mullers and maximas. The little chap in that first picture is a muller looking like the snails you might find in the garden but with a white mantle and pale body:

muller 2

This is what Helix aspersa muller looks like from underneath. The mantle is the very important organ which appears like a rim round the body. It secretes the shell and lines the inside of the shell.

Contrast that with this maxima:

maxima

This one is Helix aspersa maxima which has a black mantle. This snail is hibernating so there is a white rim but it is the edge of the shell not the mantle.

Both maxima and muller are for sale in the online shop.

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Snail Farming Training

I've got another one day course for would be Snail Farmers on 23 November and requests for places are rolling in.

THE SMALLHOLDER GUIDE

TO FARMING EDIBLE SNAILS

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I really enjoy meeting the next generation of snail entrepreneurs, showing them my small enterprise and trying to help them get started. Sometimes the snails are the fascinating starting point and sometimes it's the business idea that's been growing in their heads and is just dying to get out.

I'm often asked to predict start up costs but that's really hard to do because it depends on what farming system you are going to use and what facilities and space you already have. Then there's the question of which species of snail to farm. Helix aspersa is not doubt the best choice for most people and it is just a matter of personal preference whether to go for the 'muller' strain of smaller snails or the 'maxima' strain that gets bigger. Anyone who wants breeders needs to order now for delivery in Spring.

But what about African snails I'm asked? They certainly have some advantages because of the number of eggs they lay but the economics would need careful consideration because they have to be kept very warm.

So I'm looking forward to meeting the next group of would be snail farmers in just a month's time.

The Smallholder Guide to Farming Edible Snails booklet has the written material that supports the course and is available separately from the online shop on the website. (www.snailfarm.org.uk)

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