Florida is under siege from an invasion of Giant African Land Snails. These gargantuan mollusks that can grow to the size of a large rabbit, are reported to be able to mow through everything from the hardiest form of vegetation to the siding on your house! Their epic, if slow, path of slimy destruction has thrown Florida officials into panic as they scurry to contain the epidemic.
When one pictures a creature with the capability to cause mass panic, the snail is not necessarily the first to come to mind. As you can see in the picture below, they are not exactly the image of environmental catastrophe. Or… are they?
Someone might want to tell all of the people on the internet holding these creatures without gloves like pets that they also carry a human parasite called rat lungworm, which is a form of meningitis and potentially deadly. Suddenly, the Giant African Land Snail is slightly more menacing than I had originally pictured. The snails have also been sited as the cause of car crashes as shards from their shells can puncture tires. Steer clear of the mighty Land Snail, literally.
These snails can also reproduce quickly, producing up to 1,200 eggs per year. The young snails reach full maturity in a year’s time and have a lifespan up to nine years. Each week over 1,000 snails are caught and removed from the Miami-Dade county area, and since first discovered in 2011 over 117,000 snails have been successfully terminated.
One theory held by experts on how the mollusks came to live in the United States is that they “hitched a ride” on overseas luggage, bidding bon voyage to Africa. The search is on in Florida to contain this epidemic before the snails migrate to other states. Countries such as Ecuador and Barbados have now run out of ways to contain their own infestations. The Giant African Land Snail continues to slowly terrorize the planet.