Attack of the Giant African Snails [Video]

Floridians beware, thousands of Giant African snails are slowly making their way across the state. The Giant African Snail, which can grow up to 8 inches in length, have invaded a residential area in Miami-Dade County and are leaving a trail of eaten plants behind them.

ABC reports that Florida officials aren’t exactly sure how the Giant African Snails got into town, but they’re worried that they will have a drastic effect on the ecosystem. The snails consume at least 500 different types of plants. Officials also say that the snails can destroy stucco and plaster.

Denise Feiber, Public Information Director for Florida’s Division of Plant Industry, said:

“We have collected over a thousand so far and we have only just begun. They leave excrement all over the sides of houses. They’re very nasty. These things are not the cute little snails that you see.”

The Giant African Snails are eating up plants, destroying houses, and according to Feiber, they can also spread disease. Feiber says that the snails can carry a parasite that causes meningitis.

ABC reports that Floridians have battled the snails in the past. In the 1960s a boy smuggled a few Giant African Snails into the country and raised them as pets. When his grandmother got tired of them, she released them in her garden. 10-years, $1 million, and 18,000 snails later Florida bid farewell to the giant snails. Feiber said:

“It took the state 10 years to eradicate and it was a million dollar eradication program and that was in the late 1960s, early 1970s. Eighteen thousand snails were collected.”

Officials aren’t sure how the snails got back into Florida, but they are investigating the matter. Charles Stewart, a man who practices the African religion Ifa Orisha, is currently a person of interest.

Here’s a video about the Giant African Snails.