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Is Florida Winning the Battle Against the Giant African Land Snail?

Florida's fight against the invasive Giant African Land Snail shows promise, with years of dedicated eradication efforts. These pests threaten ecosystems and human health, but relentless tracking and community education are turning the tide. Victory seems within reach, yet constant vigilance is key. What do you think it takes to keep such invasive species at bay? Join the conversation and share your insights.
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman

For the second time in recent years, Florida is facing the threat of an invasive species originally introduced as an exotic pet.

Florida's Pasco County was put under quarantine in late June amid reports that African land snails had been found in the county and were proliferating. The huge snails, which can grow to a length of 8 inches (20.3 cm), are a threat to humans because they can carry the meningitis-causing rat lungworm parasite. They will also destroy crops if allowed to grow in large numbers. Once they get a foothold in a location, the population is very difficult to control, as a single snail can lay 2,500 eggs per year. African land snails are versatile and adaptable to numerous environments, happily feeding on hundreds of plant species and even nibbling house paint and stucco for the calcium content.

Florida is dealing with an influx of giant African land snails, an invasive species sometimes owned as pets.
Florida is dealing with an influx of giant African land snails, an invasive species sometimes owned as pets.

Native to east Africa, the snails presumably made their way to west-central Florida through the exotic pet trade, even though it is illegal to import or own them in the United States. Due to the ease with which they breed, a few discarded or escaped snails are enough to cause a population boom.

The slimy business of invasive snails:

  • Florida only recently eradicated an earlier African land snail invasion in Miami-Dade County. That invasion was reported in 2011 and successfully eradicated in 2021.

  • The quarantine in Pasco County is expected to last for three years and involves treating the soil with the pesticide metaldehyde. Labrador retrievers are also being used to sniff out the invaders.

  • The snails identified in Pasco County have white flesh, which is highly prized among exotic pet collectors.

Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...

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    • Florida is dealing with an influx of giant African land snails, an invasive species sometimes owned as pets.
      By: Bob Adams
      Florida is dealing with an influx of giant African land snails, an invasive species sometimes owned as pets.