Giant African snail found in Florida. It can cause meningitis and damage homes.

Florida, USA: The Times reports on a particularly unpleasant invasive species; the giant African snail which is considered to be one of the world’s most damaging molluscs. It has a voracious appetite and the ability to spread deadly diseases. It has been found in Florida, USA. It feeds on stucco buildings as a source of calcium which obviously damages them.

A giant African land snail
A giant African land snail. Photo: London Zoo.

More importantly, they are said to pose a serious health risk to people because they carry rat lungworm which is a parasite known to cause meningitis in people.

Nikki Fried, the Florida state agricultural commissioner said:

“If you see one of these snails, do not touch it. Most importantly, do not eat them. This is not a snail to be put on butter and oil and garlic.”

They can grow up to 8 inches long and worryingly they can reproduce rapidly. One snail can lay more than 2,500 eggs in a single year.

They are illegal to import or possess all the United States without a permit but have been detected in Pasco County which is about 30 miles north of Tampa last June according to reports by officials.

Since then, Florida’s experts have captured more than 1,400 of these giants – dead and alive – on 30 properties in the area as reported by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

According to this department, the giant African snail has been eradicated from the state twice in the past after it was detected in 1969 when they were wiped out in 1975. And in 2021 Florida’s officials celebrated the eradication of the snail after they were detected in 2011 in Miami Dade County.

London Zoo tells me that they have a shell that grows to over 20 cm long and they can weigh up to 1 kg. They normally eat plant matter but occasionally dead animal remains and eggshells. Their natural habitat is in West African forests. The scientific name is: Achatina achatina.

Below are some more pages on invasive species.

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Post Category: Invasive species