African Land Snail
A huge, house-eating snail is invading parts of the U.S. It sounds like a science fiction movie, but the giant African land snail is a destructive pest
Photo courtesy of the University of Florida Extension and B.Frank
Radio interview source: Dr. Trevor Smith, Bureau Chief of Methods Development & Biological Control, Florida Department of Agriculture
Tiny snails living aroudn the rocks and mud in ponds isn't a bother, but things can become invasive with the giant African land snail.
Trevor Smith with the Florida Department of Agriculture says the adults are hard to miss.
"They're kind of a reddish-brown color with yellow stripes running along the shell," he says. "It's actually quite striking, it's a pretty snail. And then of course, it's one of the largest, if not the largest land snail in the world. It gets up to eight-inches long, and four-inches wide which when you say it doesn't sound that big, but when you actually see it in reality, it's bigger than your fist. It's a big, giant snail."
The giant African land snail is destructive. It feeds on over 500 species of plants including fruits, vegetables, and landscape plants. Smith says the snail needs calcium and minerals to grow its shell. It will climb onto the sides of houses and dine on stucco and paint, causing structural damage.
As if all that wasn't bad enough, a parasite called a rat lungworm can be picked up by the snail and transmitted to humans.
"A human can actually get the parasite from eating an undercooked snail, that's positive for this parasite," says Smith. "You could possibly get it from the slime trail, so if you handled the snail and then touched your mouth, or your eye, or something, you could transmit it to yourself that way. There are also some reports of eating fresh vegetables that haven't been cleaned properly, that might of had snail slime on them."
Call the Department of Agriculture if you see the snail. Infected areas are treated with iron phosphate pellets, which are toxic to snails.
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