[UPDATE] Damaging African Land Snails Can Eat Stucco

By: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Release
By: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Release

UPDATE 9/16 -

Snails are known for being slow… but agriculture experts are working fast to stop these snails from spreading across south Florida.

Dr. Paul Skelley from the Florida Department of Agriculture says they believe they have caught this just in the nick of time. An invasion - of slimy, striped-shelled pests, that, at least by snail standards, live up to their name Giant African Land Snails.

But not everyone thinks they're gross. Jason Kesser says he thinks they're extraordinary, "I think they are beautiful but they populate at an incredible rate i mean exponentially is an understatement"

Jason Kesser saw one the for first time at his mother's house in Miami, "I thought it was like a dream or something it was like a mythic creature that walked it was about this big"

At the time he didn't realize the snails were dangerous.. But as soon as the Florida Department of Agriculture learned there were giant African snails in Miami, it joined with the USDA to launch an emergency response -- searching houses around SW 33rd court for the snails - they've already found about a thousand.

Skelley says, "These were just found shaking out some foliage and looking in some leaf litter" The snails quickly destroy vegetation, they'll eat stucco off a house.. And just one snail can lay 12-hundred eggs a year "It can actually become so numerous it becomes traffic hazards I've heard of the shells puncturing tires" says Skelly.

And the snails can carry a parasite that causes meningitis. Which is why Jason Kesser is thankful he didn't decide to get rid of the snails on his own. He says, "We got to the point where we were just going to maybe boil them up and eat them. We're just not that french so we didn't go for that thank god we didn't because i think that probably would've been unhealthy."


Tallahassee, FL – September 15, 2011 -

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has positively identified a population of Giant African land snails (GALS) 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.

“Florida faces constant challenges from invasive pests and diseases that arrive through cargo, travelers’ luggage, air currents, and plant and animal agricultural products,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “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.”

The Giant African land snail, Achatina fulica, 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 full 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 whorl (see photo below).

Each snail can live as long as nine years and contains 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.

Achatina fulica is originally from East Africa and has established itself throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, including the Hawaiian Islands. This pest has also been introduced into the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe with recent detections in Saint Lucia and Barbados.

The last reported outbreak and eradication of the Giant African land snail in Florida occurred in 1966 when a boy smuggled three Giant African land snails into Miami as pets. The boy’s grandmother released the snails into her garden and seven years later, more than 18,000 snails were found costing more than $1 million and taking an additional 10 years to successfully eradicate this pest from Florida. This is the only known successful giant African land snail eradication program.

Giant African land snails are illegal to import into the United States without a permit and currently no permits have been issued.

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.

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  • by mauricio aquino Location: Brasil on Sep 29, 2011 at 05:08 PM
    African Snail consumption in Brazil is not only recommended, but can minimize malnutrition millions of young adults and perhaps save thousands of lives in developing countries. But for this, the widespread prejudice against African snails must be fought with every weapon available. Thus the glass half empty would be viewed as half full and with this simple acceptance of reality, we would be turning a problem into a solution. Visite www.Achatinafulica.com
  • by Steve Location: Not in Marietta on Sep 18, 2011 at 08:09 PM
    This is just a simple post, for Ms. Laura Morris. When carp were introduced into our freshwater rivers and lakes, we made plans to eat them, and consume as many as possible. When Kudzu did not provide relief folks started cooking it, and composting it. What I can tell you about these vermon, is that you do not fry it! You want to eat these things trailing snot? Well you need to dry them out. Smoker or grill,(the flesh is like a sponge). No garlic butter! It's bad! Apply some "Ken's Light Options OLIVE OIL AND VINEGAR dressing" on the grill! If you don't want any, then just go away! When an animal is taken in Sub-Saharan Africa, it it normally hung-up in a tree for two or three days, to make it more tender. The meat just falls off the bone. I'm just sayin'. Thanks.
  • by Laura Morris on Sep 18, 2011 at 03:18 PM
    Why don't you search that name and see what it means... Or would you want all snails just called snails? That name is not the problem. It holds the information needed to know the habits and frailties of these animals ,so they can be contained. If they are a food source then that would be for another situation. Not this one. Every breath taken on this planet is not driven by race. In fact some people understand there is a race cruising toward the end... the human race. They are trying(in spite of man) to keep the Eco system stable.
  • by Florida Africa Location: Miami on Sep 18, 2011 at 11:29 AM
    Everything bad comes from Africa. How stupid can people be to say that snails found in Florida are from Africa. Very soon all the murders in Florida will be labelled African. When there is a tropical hurricane it is from Africa. Please stop this nonsense. Snails are the best and most nutritious meat ever.
  • by Jim Location: Gadsden County on Sep 18, 2011 at 08:26 AM
    Is this a surprise to anyone?...........
  • by Anonymous on Sep 17, 2011 at 03:13 AM
    No one else pointed out the other invasive slimeball that moved here 7 years ago that is destroying Florida. He spent time milling about in the southwest part of the state and has moved into Tallahassee but still migrates on occasion to other parts of the state.
  • by Jane on Sep 16, 2011 at 01:51 PM
    They are great to step on. Big round yellow eggs inside the females.
  • by robert on Sep 16, 2011 at 12:17 PM
    they can lay 1200 eggs, but it takes them 4 hours to do the deed
  • by gus on Sep 16, 2011 at 12:10 PM
    Isnt everything from there considered damaging? Just look at any inner city USA...and tell me different!
  • by Anonymous on Sep 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM
    Dang, is there anything good that comes out of Afreaka?
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