Giant African Land Snails Invade South Florida

Photo Credit: Andrew Derksen, Florida Cooperative Pest Survey Program

First we had snowbirds and alligators, then nematodes and mole crickets, followed by grubs and white flies and now giant african snails. Yes, that is right, snails. And they are eating everything in sight. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has positively identified a population of Giant African land snails in Miami-Dade County. The Giant African land snail is one of the most damaging snails in the world because they consume at least 500 different types of plants, can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco, and can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans.

The Giant African snail is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to eight inches in length and more than four inches in diameter. When fully grown, the snail’s brownish shell consists of seven to nine whorls (spirals) that cover at least half the length of its long and greatly swollen body. They can live as long as nine years and contain both female and male reproductive organs. After a single mating session, each snail can produce 100 to 400 eggs. In a typical year, every mated adult lays about 1,200 eggs.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says, “Enlisting the help of the public in the early detection of these pests and diseases is critical to containing and ultimately eradicating them in our state.” Anyone who believes they may have seen a Giant African land snail or signs of its presence should call the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services toll-free at 888-397-1517 to make arrangements to have the snail collected. To preserve the snail sample, Floridians should use gloves to put the snail in a zip lock bag, seal it and place it in a bucket or plastic container. They are advised not to release or give these samples away.

Keep your eyes open for the African Snail and if you find one call the toll-free number.

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Comments

  1. Wow! Sounds like a really bad 1960’s Horror movie!! Wonder if Rock Salt will melt them?

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