This African Snail May Look Docile - But It's Actually Devastatingly Dangerous

This African Snail May Look Docile - But It's Actually Devastatingly Dangerous

The size of a hare, the speed of a tortoise - this is one massive snail. If you think it's cute (and there are people that think that), wait until you hear how this thing is destroying everything in its path.

A few days ago the story of an Australian couple facing off against a giant spider made a sensation on the web. Now a snail is attracting the attention of Internet users! It all started with a young American woman going by the pseudonym ‘madds’ who published an unusual photo on Twitter.

A woman holding a giant snail in her arms can be seen. Unsurprisingly, the photo did not fail to cause a reaction on the internet, quickly going viral. This reaction made the young woman realise that she was not the person in the photo, and that she did not know who it really was.

"From what I understood, the picture was taken in Russia and not in the United States,’"the young woman wrote on her Twitter account. This information is far from insignificant because this snail does not belong to just any species, it is a giant African snail or more specifically, Lissachatina fulica.

A danger to health and crops

Originating from southern Africa as its name suggests, this species of oversized snail can reach up to 8 inches long and weigh 1.5 kilograms. The problem is that the rather sociable animal has been widely introduced on other continents as a pet, where it has become a threat in these regions.

The giant snail is known to carry several parasites as well as pathogens that can affect humans. But it also represents a real danger for ecosystems because the herbivorous mollusc is not that picky when it comes to plants. It feeds on a wide variety of plants, fruits and vegetables.

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When released into nature, the species can be particularly devastating. To make matters worse, it breeds at a relatively high rate and its large size means the snail has almost no predators. More surprisingly, it happens that the animal also feeds on bone and plaster which it uses to strengthen its shell.

Among the top 100 most invasive species

For all these reasons, the giant African snail is among the top 100 most invasive species in the world. In 2011 the state of Florida, on the southeastern coast of the Gulf of the United States, even launched a large program to eradicate the species. In just six months after the start of the program, more than 40,000 giant snails were collected.

Rob Mitchell
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