It can be the size of an adult male fist. The Lissachatina fulica, more commonly known as the giant African snail, is back in Florida.
The first specimens were reported at the end of June in Pasco County, north of Tampa. The first had been found by a gardener on June 23.
This species represents a threat to the ecosystem and agricultural crops. This is also the case for human health.
The giant snail can carry a parasitic worm called rat lungworm which is capable of transmitting meningitis to humans, especially in fragile people. If so far “none of the thousand snails captured have the parasitereassures Bill Kern, professor at the University of Florida, still don’t touch or eat them.”
Three years to be certain of its eradication
“We are currently investigating the species to determine the number of snails in Pasco County”, Christina Chitty of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) told CNN. A chemical eradication operation using pesticides was immediately launched to treat the soil. According to the FDACS, it will take at least three years to be completely sure that all gastropods have been eliminated.
This reappearance is a reminder that Florida is used to seeing invasive species emerge in its natural spaces. This was the case with Burmese pythons, wild pigs and even lionfish in recent decades.
The giant African snail is one of the 100 “worst invasive species” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).