Giant African Land Snail

Science Center Objects

Originally from East Africa, the giant African land snail (Achatina fulica), has been established throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, including the Hawaiian Islands.  Since 2011, these snails have been found in Miami, Florida. Although the current range is limited to the southern latitudes of Florida, this snail can withstand freezing and go into hibernation for as much as a year.  This allows them to more easily expand their range northward, especially during years of warmer winters. This snail is a species of concern due to its high degree of invasiveness and its potential to harbor zoonotic pathogens. African land snails are known to be the host of multiple species of parasites and bacteria; including but not limited to the rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) and salmonella (Salmonella enterica).  They also are known to consume over 500 species of plants and pose a food security risk, especially given the significant agriculture industry in Florida. Leetown Science Center researchers are studying optimal ways to test for the presence of the rat lungworm on this species as well as conducting a population genetics study on this species.

 

Giant African Land Snail

Giant African Land Snail(Credit: Kay M Briggs, USGS Leetown Science Center. Public domain.)