African Giant Snail (Reuters)
Giant African land snails can destroy crops and damage buildings

Authorities in the US have seized more than 1,200 illegally bred giant snails since June this year.

The giant African land snails were found in US states ranging from Indiana to New York, having originally been sold by a man in Georgia.

The United States Department of Agriculture claimed the snails can cause crop damage and meningitis in humans, and it has highlighted they are banned in the US.

The creatures have no known predators in the US and can grow to the size of a fist, while they also produce 1,200 or more offspring every year.

In Miami, where a wild population has developed since the 1960s when pets were released, the snails have been discovered chewing their way through stucco and plaster on houses, which they consume for calcium, and have devaststated gardens, too.

They have so far been kept away from the US state's lucrative citrus crops. The snails are collected as pets and some people eat them as a delicacy.