Snails As Big As Shoes Are Kind Of A Problem In Florida

When HuffPost Weird first heard that giant snails were “invading” Florida, we had visions of this:

Unfortunately, that’s far from the reality for Floridians. Giant African land snails — which can grow as large as a shoe — reappeared in the Sunshine State in 2011, when they were spotted in Miami for the first time since the 1960s. Since then, Florida has spent $10.8 million to eradicate the species, removing 158,000 of the giant snails.

Scientists consider the giant African land snail to be “one of the most damaging snails in the world,” according to the Florida Department of Agriculture. The snails eat around 500 types of plants in the region, as well as the stucco on houses.

It’s also possible for the snails to transmit a parasitic infection that can cause a rare form of meningitis, though it’s unlikely. The snails become infected by consuming rat feces that contains the parasite — which is commonly known as the “rat lungworm” — and humans must consume the snail to get the infection. No snails in the U.S. have been known to carry the parasite, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The snails are difficult to kill. State workers initially tried offing them with organic pesticides, but when that didn’t work, they tried snail and slug-killing pellets that work 95 to 100 percent of the time — except when the snails climb trees to evade them. The department even uses specially trained dogs to sniff out the snails.

The snails are native to Africa, and no one is entirely sure how they got to Florida in the first place. Officials believe they may have initially stowed away in the soil of plants shipped to Florida, according to NPR.

Sometimes, the snails are also —> Read More