Different materials can be used for building snaileries, depending on price and availability.
- Decay- and termite-resistant timber. In West Africa favourable tree species are iroko (Milicia excelsa, local name – odum), opepe (Naucleadiderrichii, local name – kusia), or ekki (Lophira alata, local name – kaku). In South East Asia poles can be made of a species like teak (Tectona grandis), which is widely planted in other continents as well.
- Sandcrete blocks, or mudbricks.
- Galvanized sheets, polythene sheets.
- Chicken wire, for protection.
- Mosquito nets or nylon mesh, for covering the pens as protection against insects.
- Second-hand materials, like car tyres, oil drums and old water tanks.
In addition to car tyres, oil drums and such materials, the following types of pens might be considered for simple snaileries:
- Hutch boxes
- Trench pens
- Mini-paddock pens
- Free-range pens
Car tyres, oil drums
Discarded tyres or oil drums may serve as relatively cheap snail pens.
Three or four tyres are placed on top of each other, with chicken wire and mosquito mesh between the topmost tyre and the second one from the top.
Oil drums should have some holes in the bottom for drainage, be filled with good soil to a depth of 7-10 cm, and be fitted with wire plus mosquito mesh on top.
Such pens are suitable for keeping a few snails (up to about four mature snails in each container) close to the house, for private use.
Hutch boxes are square or rectangular, single or multi-chamber wooden boxes with lids, placed on wooden stilts above the ground at a suitable height for easy handling. The stilts should be fitted with plastic or metal conical protectors or aprons, to prevent vermin from crawling or climbing up the stilts to attack the snails in the boxes. The protectors could be made from old tins or plastic bottles. In the middle of the lid is an opening covered with wire netting and nylon mesh.
The lid should be fitted with a padlock to discourage pilfering. In the floor of the box are a few holes through which excess water can drain out. The boxes are filled with sieved black soil to a depth of 18-25 cm. The box (es) should obviously be well protected from scorching sun or torrential rain.