Researchers from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have found that giant African snails have invaded Florida.
Researchers have discovered the giant African land snail, also known as Achatina fulica. Achatina fulica is one of the largest land snails in the world; it grows up to 8 inches in length and more than four inches in diameter.
Achatina fulica can live as long as nine years. These hermaphrodites have both female and male reproductive organs. Each snail can produce 100 to 400 eggs after a single mating session. In a year, every mated adult lays about 1,200 eggs.
According to the researchers, Achatina fulicais quite harmful to humansbecause it carries a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans. These snails consume lots of food, at least 500 different types of plants. They can also damage buildings specially those made of plaster and stucco.
In 1966, a boy smuggled three Giant African land snails into Miami as pets and his grandmother had released the snails into her garden and seven years later, more than 18,000 snails were found. To remove these pests it took ten years and costing more than $1 million.
In some western countries people keep these snails as pets. Countries like America have banned these snails from being imported.
"Florida faces constant challenges from invasive pests and diseases that arrive through cargo, travellers' 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."
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