It is known as a giant snail, tiger snail widely distributed in West Africa ( Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo), it requires higher humidity than the other two species and needs a longer growing time to reach sexual maturity.
Achatina achatina snails are reputedly the largest land snails in the world. Although usually much smaller, they can grow up to 30 cm in body length and 25 cm in shell height. Average adult shell length is 18 cm, with an average diameter of 9 cm. The conically shaped, fairly pointed shell is brownish with a characteristic stripe pattern (hence the name tiger snail).
Achatina achatina originates from the West African rainforest belt, from Guinea through Nigeria, A. achatina is the most prized species for consumption is becoming increasingly rare in the wild. Hence, the need to venture inot snail farming known as helical ture is wide open and lucrative.
The species prefers warm conditions, 25-30°C and a relative humidity of 80-95%. A. achatina is said not to be the easiest species to farm because of the very steady conditions it is used to in the wild: a practically constant 12/12 photoperiod, only extending to 13/11 for about 3 months, and a temperature difference between night and day of only 2-4°C. Even in the most humid areas of West Africa the snail, in its natural habitat, buries itself for aestivation during the drier months.
A.Archanita feeds on low cost feed supplements, vegetables, sweet potato,pawpaw,garden egg, watermelon,tomatoes,cucumber, pineapple peels and fruit,plantain etc.
Life history Reproduction: Achatina achatina reproduces by self-fertilisation. Unlike in many other species, reproduction is not preceded by coupling, although it is not unusual to find two snails in close proximity. indicate that the species breeds in the main rainy season (April-July in Ghana). Laying of eggs takes place in the late evening and night. Eggs are laid in clutches of 30-300 eggs. They are broadly oval, dirty yellowish, 8-9 mm long and 6-7 mm wide. Eggs are deposited in dug-out holes about 4 cm deep. When small clutches of eggs are laid, a second laying is indicated, and sometimes a third.
Hatching. Usually, the eggs hatch 2-3 weeks after laying, with a range of 10-31 days, depending on temperature. A. achatina has a high hatching rate of 90+%; even 100% hatchability is not uncommon.
Hatchlings. The baby snail has a thin shell membrane which calcifies progressively. Although this period is characterised by rapid growth, the snails are able to survive the first few days (5-10 days) after hatching without food.
Juveniles. The juvenile phase covers the period from 1 or 2 months to the stage of sexual maturity (14-20 months). During this period, the snail accepts a much wider range of food. At the end of the period, the shell is well formed and the snail weighs between 100 and 450 g. Differences in growth rates of the various ecotypes are very evident during this period.
Adults. The adult phase starts when the snail reaches sexual maturity. Not all adult snails lay eggs each season. An average life expectancy is 5 to 6 years, although there are reports of snails surviving up to 9 or 10 years.
The feeding habits, housing and management will be discussed in the next article.