Quite a while ago, probably sometime around 2006, a series of discussions with Fredrik Häljesgård and input from the owner of Achatinidae.com resulted in us coming up with a food supplement that could be fed with or instead of normal fruit and vegetables etc.
A number of mixes were experimented with but the one I personally was most happy with was as follows:
- 15% Crushed Oyster Shell/Cuttlefish Bone Powder
- 40% Ground Hemp
- 15% Ground Oats
- 10% Chicken Mash (A mix for laying hens)
- 10% Ground Sunflower Kernels
- 10% Ground Pumpkin Seed
My recipe is based around hemp as the primary ingredient, simply because it is the most balanced form of nutrition and, in my experience, they really like it. The other seeds are added because they are also nutritious and the variety helps to ensure nothing is lacking. The hemp is unshelled, and that makes up the fibre part of the ingredients. Pumpkin seeds are very healthy and they contain a deworming agent. Whether or not that is effective is unclear but it certainly does no harm.
The calcium aspect has two important points. Firstly, the following study showed that crushed oyster shell improved growth:
That doesn't necessarily mean improved health, but it stands to reason that shells contain other nutrients/ingredients which are required to build the four main shell layers.
In Dai Herbert's book on Eastern South African snail, it is suggested that a series of studies showed that a snails diet should consist of no more than 12% calcium. Any more and they risk forming calcified deposits, like gall stones.
The rest comes from information on commercial snail farms and suggestions and discussion here with the deworming and health pumpkin seeds ingredient inspired by all the discussion of worms ages ago. It was an, organic process with inputs from lots of people.
I use an old antique coffee grinder to grind the seeds. The mix, kept cool, dry and dark can be kept for a long time so it's worth making a decent amount each time. It's cheaper that way also!
Serve wet but allow the water to soak in for 10 minutes before serving. It goes sour quickly so add to the tank in evening and remove any left overs in the morning before it has a chance to go off.
In my experience snails tend to be gluttons with snail mix initially and then can be observed to suffer the equivalent of overconsumption like we may experience after a huge meal. I would suggest serving in fairly small quantities a few times a week as a supplement rather than using as a staple.
It is a high-protein food, and serving too much can produce rapid growth. Small, hair-line cracks in the shells have been observed in some snails that were probably fed too much - another reason to feed in moderation. It's a great food to have on hand for when run out of fresh fruit and vegetables or they are hard to come by for some reason.
It's definitely worth trying various versions of the mix with your own ingredients thrown in. Just make sure the amount of calcium doesn't exceed 15% - with it being an ingredient the snails can't be selective about what they are eating.