Can Quails Eat Snails? Benefits & Risks
Quail, both wild and domesticated, falls under the omnivorous category of eaters as they eat both greens and meat. Their diet in the wild is dictated mainly by season and food availability.
They get their protein and minerals from animal-based foods like insects and grub and the rest of their nutrients from seeds and leafy greens. This depends on the season as some food sources become scarce while others grow in quantity with the changing season.
Most new quail farmers are conversant with this fact. The one question they tend to ask most in regards to diet is can quails eat snails? This arises from the fact that snails are usually plenty on the farm. For the new farmers that wonder if the omnivorous diet can comprise snails as well, this piece properly elaborates on the question.
Do Quails Eat Snails?
Snail shells are a good source of calcium carbonate. For this reason, quails enjoy snacking on snails, especially on their shells. The minerals in the shells are good for strengthening bones in baby quails and help to boost egg production in breeding quails.
It is thus not unusual to see quail ripping into snails to break their shells for food from time to time. If you have snails in your garden or yards, there is a very high probability that your quails will feed on them.
Do Quails Eat Slugs?
Slugs are also a delicacy to quail. They are sweet and go down smooth making them an enjoyable snack for the quail. They also come in various sizes in nature and as such, can be ingested by both baby quails and mature quails quite easily.
Free-range quail will be seen looking for slugs from spring to fall as they look to supplement their winter diet of seeds and bugs. It is a good break in the diet for them and a source of minerals and protein as well.
Risk of Quails Eating Snails
Just because snails are a delicacy doesn’t mean that they pose no risk to the quails. As your quail eat snails, they take up the risk of getting worms into their digestive tract. Snails are sometimes carriers of gapeworms.
These are worms that are red and round and live by attaching themselves to the trachea of quail. As they grow and increase in size and number, they begin to close off the tracts, causing breathing problems in quail as well as reduced appetite.
With time, this causes constant coughing in your quail. They will also begin to breathe more with their mouths open. If left unattended, the worms can multiply and close off the trachea completely, leading to death via suffocation for the quail.
It is thus advisable to deworm your quail on a regular, especially if you spot snails in your garden or yard. Deworming once or twice a month should be sufficient and allow for the quails to live normal healthy lives, even if they ingest a lot of sails.
For the baby quails, snails pose a choking problem, as they have less swallowing capacity. This is more likely when they try to ingest bigger snails whole. If you have baby quails and it is snail season, it is better to contain them, especially if they are eating without a mother quail to look over them.
What Treats to Feed to Your Quails?
There are many other treats that you can feed your quail from time to time as you look to spruce up their diet and increase their egg-laying or meat production. One of the best treats is vegetables like lettuce, clover, spinach, and kale.
For treats rich in protein, good options are crickets, mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, grub worms, and fly larvae. For fruits and berries, some treats that you can give your quail are blackberries, currants, huckleberries, grapes (remove seeds), serviceberries, cucumber, currants, apples, and snowberries.
It is good to ensure that you do not leave any of the fresh food or vegetables in the coop till they rot, as this will endanger the health of your quail.
Even after generations of domestication and commercial feeds, quails generally understand the food items that are toxic to them. They tend to avoid these food items on their own unless they are faced with starvation.
In these cases, they will eat whatever is available even if it is bound to harm them after. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your quail have an abundance of food in their coop or the common feeding area if they are free-range.
Some foods to avoid feeding your quail are caffeine, avocado, rhubarb, chocolates, and onions. Salty table scraps, grape seeds, citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, parsley, uncooked potatoes, meat, and leaves or stems from nightshade family plants. With these in mind, you should be able to provide nutrition for your quail and enable them to grow perfectly.