By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: Using snail skincare products has become very popular in the last few years. People are also using live snails on their skin to get the best results. A few people in Kuwait have also started breeding snails. Salman Al-Matouq is one of them, who has even started selling the escargots after breeding a large number of them. Kuwait Times spoke to him to get more information about this strange hobby.
Kuwait Times: How did you get the idea of breeding and selling snails?
Salman Al-Matouq: When I visited a dermatology clinic in Malaysia, they used a snail to treat acne on my face, especially after shaving. I was impressed with the results, and decided to use snails myself.
KT: When did you turn your hobby into a business? How many snails do you have now?
Matouq: In 2009, I started breeding snails as a hobby. Two years ago, I turned this hobby into a small business. I now have 117 snails.
KT: Do snails reproduce quickly and in large numbers? From where do you import the snails? How long do snails live on average?
Matouq: They reproduce quickly, especially during their mating season between April and October. They produce abundantly and lay between 30 and 100 eggs. I import snails from Thailand and Malaysia. Their average age is 5-9 years. One of my snails is already eight and a half years old.
KT: Why do people buy snails? For eating or skincare?
Matouq: Around half of my customers buy for breeding, with the other half for skincare. I have never met any costumer who buys snails for eating. But I know that in many countries, they do eat them. The gel and collagen of the snail have great benefits for the skin.
KT: Where do you keep the snails? Do they require a special environment?
Matouq: The proper environment for snails to live is a suitable temperature and special soil. I have a special big plastic box with coconut soil, far from cold temperature and air conditioning. They should always stay in a warm environment.
KT: How do you recognize the male from the female snail? And is there any difference in price?
Matouq: There are no male or female snails – they are hermaphrodites. All snails can lay eggs. Their prices depend on their size and age, ranging from KD 1 up to KD 80. For instance, I have snails that are five months old, which cost KD 4. Prices of adult snails that are ready for reproduction range between KD 10 and KD 25. Only snail breeders and experts can recognize the age of the snail from their size and shell.
KT: What are the most popular kinds of snails?
Matouq: I have three kinds of snails. Regular snails with dark skin, albino with white skin, and caramel snails with light skin. Caramel snails are of two types – albino caramel and regular caramel depending on the color of the shell.
KT: Are there other snail breeders in Kuwait?
Matouq: There are around 10 other breeders in Kuwait, but I think they don’t have enough experience. Snails can get dehydrated if a proper environment is not provided.