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Aware Public Credited for Most Giant African Land Snail Captures

September 18, 2012

 

Search teams have captured more than 100,000 giant African land snails since the discovery of the massive mollusk in Miami-Dade County, Fla. in September 2011. Agriculture officials credit  public vigilance for the programs continued success. Inspectors respond  to reports from the public, collecting the snails when they are found and applying bait in and around areas where they have been detected.

Most finds result from calls made by the public to the Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry (DPI) Helpline, 888-397-1517.

The giant African land snail (Achatina fulica) is one of the largest snails in the world. It is also the most dangerous.  It consumes at least 500 different types of plants, can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco, and, in rare cases, can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans, although no cases have been identified yet in the U.S.  It can grow up to eight inches in length and more than four inches in diameter. An individual can live as long as nine years. Adults lay about 1,200 eggs in a typical year.

Originally from East Africa, the snail has established itself throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, including the Hawaiian Islands. It has also been introduced into the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe with recent detections in Saint Lucia, Barbados and South America. It is illegal to import Giant African land snails into the United States without a permit. Currently no permits have been issued.

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Anyone who believes they may have seen a giant African land snail or signs of its presence should call the Division of Plant Industry’s toll-free Helpline at 1-888-397-1517 to arrange to have the snail collected.

For more information on invasive snail species, visit: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/gals/

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