I imagine that when I say the word snail you generally think of those slimy things you find crawling around in your garden or on a plate in some fancy restaurant. Well think again because these suckers that are invading Miami would fill a whole plane or demolish your garden, and then go to work on your house for desert.
Yes folks, the Giant African Land Snail has arrived and its hungry, very hungry.
Right now it seems to be only found in one small subdivision in Miami but these snails can grow to be 10-inches long and have a voracious appetite. They also leave a really slimy trail of excrement wherever they go as well as harboring the microscopic rat-lung which can transmit meningitis to humans. Oh and did I say they can eat your house?
As Richard Gaskalla, head of plan industry for Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said in a recent interview
“They’ll attach to the side of the house and eat the stucco off the side of the house,” Gaskalla says. The snails are also attracted to garbage and pet food that’s been left out.
Giant African Land Snails are restricted in the US. Gaskalla says people often smuggle them into the country in their pockets, because they make popular novelty pets.
“Back in 1965 we had an introduction that was traced back to an elementary-aged child that had put two of them in his pocket in Hawaii and brought them back to Miami,” Gaskalla says. “Seventeen-thousand snails, a million dollars, and ten years, we eradicated them.”
A more recent introduction several years ago was traced to small religious sects in Miami, where the snails are believed to harbor healing properties.
“A young woman had come in with some stomach ailments, and her mother said she had been fed the juices of a live snail as a healing rite,” Gaskalla says.
Never mind the garlic butter for this sucker, it’ll probably eat your fork.