Sunday, November 11, 2012

Giant African Snail Invades Florida

Giant snail. Photo courtesy: Florida Department of Agriculture/Public Domain

About a month ago, we covered a close call in Australia; a species of large invasive snails that can eat pretty much anything and reproduce quickly was found in a port. Thankfully, the snail was discovered and destroyed before it left the port, but who knows if more than one individual found its way to Australia... Having no predators there, they could wreck havoc.

These snails, which are originally from Africa, are real globe-trotters, because they are also invading Florida.
The snails, thought to have been brought in from the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, are known to eat through just about anything including most plant life and even stucco, which means that a large number of houses in the U.S. State are in danger.[...]

The problem is that these giant snails have very few or no natural predators in Florida, meaning they have free rein to propagate across the state.

And propagate they do: the snails are known to lay 1,200 eggs a year, meaning the snail population can explode very quickly.
In many Caribbean countries and territories, the snails have become so invasive that they’re known to regularly blow out tires on cars.

The snails aren’t just a problem in Florida it seems. Areas around the Great Lakes are also warning against the massive snails.

The last time Florida faced a snail invasion like this was in the 1960s, when three of the snails were brought into the state after a young boy vacationed in Hawaii. The state spent millions of dollars and ten years fighting to eradicate the giant pests.

Now is probably a good time to remind readers to be careful when traveling.
“If you got a ham sandwich in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, or an orange, and you didn’t eat it all and you bring it back into the States and then you discard it, at some point, things can emerge from those products,” Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services told Reuters. (National Post source)
The regulations about not bringing food and plants are there for a reason. You can't always see invasive species; sometimes just bringing some eggs is enough. Please keep that in mind, especially if you're going far away from home.

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