What's the exact species of this African Giant Snail?

What's the exact species of this African Giant Snail?

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We've got an African Giant Snail a few years ago but failed to identify the exact species so far. When we got it, it's been about 20 % smaller than now, so it's probably not been an adult snail, but we don't know the exact age.

We only got this single snail, so there's no way to check for the eggs.

Here's a picture (small version, about 400 KiB) and a link to a bigger version. If you need more detailed pictures of certain parts, please let me know.

Bigger version: (about 2.2 MiB)

This picture shows that the apex is about 12 centimeters (4.7") in length, while the foot is about 14 centimeters (5.5").

I am not sure how to handle this.

The answer is the content of this page, which (I guess) should not be entirely copy / pasted here for copyright reasons.

So based on the texture of the skin, you have a variety of Achatina.

If I receive advice about how to make this answer comply more with the rules of the site, I will edit my answer.

Giant African Land Snail

The giant African land snail (Lissachatina fulica, formerly Achatina fulica) was originally introduced to Hawaii in 1936 and Florida in 1966. Florida’s original eradication campaign took ten years and cost one million dollars. The snail was rediscovered in 2011. Eradication efforts are ongoing (2015).

Giant African land snails are eaten in many countries and sold as canned pet food for skinks, turtles, monitors, and small animals.

Giant African land snails, Lissachatina fulica, can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) long. (Photo: Andrew Derksen, FDACS/DPI,

Range and Distribution

Giant African land snails are native to East Africa and found in Asia. In the USA, in Southern Florida and Hawaii, the snails are under quarantine. The USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has established additional regulated areas in Florida (June 2015). The snails are sold and raised as pets in other countries, including those of Europe. While not yet in New York, the giant African land snail, owing to the illegal pet trade, is prohibited in the state.

Identification and Biology

One of the largest terrestrial snails, full-grown adults can reach almost 8 inches (20 cm) long and 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. Adult shells are brownish with darker brown lengthwise stripes, have seven to nine whorls including a swollen long body whorl, and covers at least half the length of the snail. Snails have female and male reproductive organs. One mating can result in multiple clutches of eggs over time. Rapid population increases are likely because each snail can produce 1,200 eggs per year.

Close-up of giant African land snail. (Photo: Yuri Yashin,, Giant African land snail egg clutch. (Photo: Yuri Yashin,,

Hosts and Habitats

The snails are found in many plant habitats and are known to preferentially consume beans, peas, cucumbers, melons, and peanuts. Also at risk are ornamental plants, tree bark, and even the plaster, stucco, or paint on buildings.

No surface is off-limits to the snails. Giant African land snail on a Florida refuse bin. (Photo: Andrew Derksen, FDACS/DPI,


Because of their large size, ability to consume over 500 different kinds of plants, and cause damage to plaster and stucco buildings, the giant African land snail is one of the most damaging snails in the world. The snails are also a potential risk to human health because they can carry a parasitic nematode that can cause meningitis.

Giant African land snail infestation in Florida tree. (Photo: David G. Robinson, USDA APHIS PPQ,

Prevention and Control

Giant African land snails are able to survive cold temperatures in a semi-hibernation state. They represent a potential threat to New York even though they thrive in tropical/subtropical areas. If a snail shell is larger than two inches (5-6 cm) it is most likely a type of giant snail. Do not handle with bare hands. Importation is prohibited and specimens will be confiscated by customs. Do not purchase as pets or as educational animals through foreign online dealers or local distributors. For safe removal, or if found outdoors or for sale, contact local New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Cornell Cooperative Extension, or USDA offices.

Giant Snails Invading Florida, "Major Threat" to Crops

It could take years to fully rid the state of the species, officials say.

A new outbreak of giant, disease-carrying snails is threatening Florida's crops, experts say.

The giant African land snail is finding itself right at home in the Sunshine State, whose hot and humid climate resembles the species' tropical Nigerian habitat. (Related: "Giant Snails, Once a Delicacy, Overrun Brazil.")

Now found throughout the world, including the contiguous United States and Hawaii, these invasive plant-eaters pose a particular danger in Florida because of its vibrant agricultural industry.

"We're producing food that the nation depends on . [and this snail] eats 500 different plants, including pretty much everything that grows in Florida," said Mark Fagan, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture.

"This is not something we can walk away from. These snails are a major threat to Florida's agriculture."

Some snails are smuggled into the U.S. as pets or for religious practices and, once here, get transported around the country in plants or cargo by unwitting people, experts say. (Read more about invasive species.)

"These snails have been intercepted by customs and border patrols at airports. There was one woman who was flying back from Nigeria [who] was intercepted, and she had hidden some snails under her skirt," Fagan said.

The exact reasons for smuggling the snails is unknown, he added, "but we are aware that these snails are used in certain religious practices. Some people also like to keep these snails as pets because they're exotic."

There have been outbreaks of the snails in Florida and other parts of the country before, but Florida's latest boom began a year and a half ago in Miami-Dade County.

"They're very prolific," said Awinash Bhatkar, a snail expert with the Texas Department of Agriculture.

After reaching adulthood at about six months of age, the snails can produce up to a hundred eggs per month and live more than eight years.

Whereas most snails feed on decaying organic material or on leaf molds, the giant African land snail is one of the few snails that actually feed on plant parts themselves, Bhatkar said.

In addition to plants, young snails are known to munch on house stucco and even cement as they seek out calcium to strengthen their growing shells.

The snails also pose a human and animal health threat because they can eat rat feces and contract rat lungworm, which can cause a rare form of meningitis. (See pictures of infectious animals.)

"The parasitic nematode that causes rat lungworm can be present in the slime of the snail," Fagan explained. "So if a person comes in contact with the snail, the nematode present can then enter the person's body, eventually making its way into the brain."

He added, "We have confirmation from the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that rat lungworm disease is present in some snail samples that we sent up to them."

Because of this risk, the Department of Agriculture's Fagan said anyone who thinks they have a giant African land snail infestation should call the department immediately at 888-397-1517, rather than try to kill the snails themselves.

"We'd rather go out and tell you, 'Nope, that's not a giant African land snail,' than you not call us . We don't want to endanger anyone's health. We have protective gear, and we know how to pick them up."

Fagan is confident that his department has the outbreak in Miami-Dade County under control since switching to a much more aggressive form of bait that's more lethal to the giant African land snail.

The bait contains a bittering agent that makes it unpalatable to domestic animals and wildlife.

"It's truly a challenge, but it's not a challenge that we can't overcome," he said. "We feel very confident that we will be able to reach eradication."

If past experience is any guide, however, achieving that goal in Miami-Dade County could take years. (Read about Burmese pythons thriving in Florida.)

In 1966, an outbreak occurred in North Miami after snails smuggled by a 10-year-old boy from Hawaii were released by his grandmother. Nine years, and about 18,000 dead snails later, the snail pest was finally removed.

But the Miami-Dade outbreak is much bigger, and as a result could take much longer to contain.

Distribution and habitat

Although native to Africa, from Mozambique to Kenya and Somalia in addition to the nearby islands, this species has been introduced to many parts of the world over time and today can be found naturally in African countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Morocco. However, it lives now in Hawaii, Australia, islands of the Caribbean, islands, and regions of Asia, China, Bangladesh, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Vanuatu. In conclusion, the Giant African snail now dwells on all continents except Antarctica.

This snail thrives where the climate is hot and humid. In Africa, it lives along the edges of forests but can live on the banks of rivers and streams, shrublands, agricultural areas, plantations, gardens, wetlands and in various urban sites. It is capable of living in temperate climates too.

The Giant African Snails have been introduced in recent years to several locations and seem to have adapted extremely well. These areas include among others, the Caribbean and some Pacific islands. They often end up in unwanted places due to people transporting them, either as pet trade or inadvertently.

It is illegal to have one of them as a pet in the United States because they are one of the most invasive species in the world and they have produced extensive damage to crops in states like Florida, Georgia or Idaho.

Although some people may think it is no big deal, they can deposit a lot of eggs, up to 200 every time they deliver a batch, and this can happen in a short span of time. Then, soon can appear many munching around and damaging essential crops for humans. Some people turn them loose to get rid of them, and that is where the real trouble starts.

General information on pest and damage



Ⓒ Yuri Yashin,,

Giant East African Snail is a major agricultural pest, feeding on a variety of crops and causing significant economic losses. In the US state of Florida it has been estimated that Giant East African Snail would have caused an annual loss of $US 11 million in 1969 if its population had not been controlled. In India it attained serious pest status, particularly in 1946/47, when it appeared in epidemic proportions in Orissa and caused severe damage to vegetable crops and rice paddies. Plants most likely damaged by the snail are garden flowers and ornamentals, vegetables, (especially Cruciferae, Cucurbitaceae and Leguminosae) and immature specimens of breadfruit, cassava and teak wood. Giant East Aftrican Snail may also increase the spread of plant diseases (for example, black pod disease of cocoa caused by Phytophthora palmivora), which it spreads in its faeces.

Check Out This Huge Sack Of Giant, Highly Invasive Snails Seized At JFK

A bulging sack of highly invasive yet extremely cool-looking Giant African Snails were seized from a traveler at JFK Airport on Sunday.

According to Customs and Border Patrol, which seizes thousands of illegal things every day that do not merit this kind of press release, a man arrived on a flight from Ghana and promptly declared the 22 snails.

Unfortunately for him, these snails are prohibited, because they eat almost anything, breed like crazy, and carry a terrifying parasite that causes something called "rat lungworm." The snails can reach up to 8 inches long and 5 inches wide when fully grown.

"As far as being able to spread and reproduce really fast, they're really good at that," said Wallace Meyer, a professor of biology at Pomona College, who has studied the Giant African Snail. "They can lay eggs pretty rapidly—their clutches can be hundreds of eggs in each clutch."

The snails have also been observed eating more than 500 species of plant, making them adept at tearing through crops. Florida and Hawaii have had to deal with their own invasive snail populations, after the animals were introduced there in the mid-20th century.

"One of the hypotheses in Hawaii, is that people thought it would be cool to have really big snails cruising around. There's something to that theory," Meyer said.

If the snails are ingested, or if you touch your hands to your mouth after playing with your Giant African Snail, there's a good chance you could get rat lungworm, which is caused by a parasitic nematode that in severe cases, leads to spinal meningitis in humans.

According to a CBP spokesperson, the man with the snails was not charged with any crimes, because he declared his snails. As for the snails themselves, they were released to the US Department of Agriculture.

Meyer said he has noticed a growing market for the creatures online.

"I find them intriguing ecologically, but I wouldn't necessarily want them as a pet," he said. "What does that mean for a species' ability to spread across he globe? That's kind of concerning to me."

Melting Snails

Flat-bodied South American snails are also called "melting" snails (Megalobulimus capillaceus) because their pancake-thin bodies appear to spill out like melting butter on all sides of their shells. They are air-breathing and endemic to San Martín, Huánuco, and Cusco, Peru, although some scientists define the Cusco population as a whole other species (Megalobulimus florezi). There are more than 50 species within the genus Megalobulimus, belonging to the subfamily Megalobuliminae.

Giant African Land Snail Population

Given how quickly A. fulica reaches reproductive age, its fecundity, and its ability to quickly adapt to different habitats, there are probably millions of them worldwide. In Africa alone, they are found in 14 countries and are considered invasive in eight of them, including Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, and the Seychelles.

The snail is found in 21 Asian countries, including Nepal, Israel, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Vietnam, and is considered invasive in all four of them. The snail is found in Italy and Spain but is under eradication in Italy.

In the United States, the snail is found in Florida, Hawaii, and Wisconsin and is invasive in Florida and Hawaii. A. fulica was first found in Florida in 1969 was eradicated but returned in 2011 and is now under eradication again.

A. fulica is also invasive in many areas of Oceania, including American Samoa, French Polynesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa. It was eradicated in Tuvalu.

The snail has been introduced as early as before 1800 in Madagascar and as recently as 2013 in the Netherlands Antilles.

Scientists glue tiny computers on snails to solve mass extinction mystery

The world's smallest computer reveals how one species survived a nasty predator.

A tiny computer backpack adorns the shell of this rosy wolf snail.

Using a tiny computer about the size of a pencil eraser, scientists have figured out how a native tree snail species managed to survive a vicious predator that wiped out 50 other snail species in the South Pacific.

French authorities who ran the South Pacific Society Islands introduced that predator, the rosy wolf snail, in 1974 in an attempt to curb the spread of the giant African land snail that had been previously introduced as a food source, according to The Guardian. The rosy wolf snail's actions are less than rosy, despite its moniker. It moves faster than most snails and voraciously attacks and eats snails and slugs.

The Society Islands are a group of islands that support hundreds of endemic animal species, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Of the 61 native tree snail species on the islands before the rosy wolf came to town, Partula hyalina is among just five that survived in the wild.

So how did the white-shelled P. hyalina evade the grips of its predator? In a new study published Tuesday in the journal Communications Biology, University of Michigan scientists reveal their answer.

From the lab to your inbox. Get the latest science stories from CNET every week.

"We were able to get data that nobody had been able to obtain," said David Blaauw, co-leader of the team that developed the Michigan Micro Mote, or M3, the computer used in the study. "And that's because we had a tiny computing system that was small enough to stick on a snail."

U-M scientists hypothesized in 2015 that P. hyalina was able to persist in sunlit forest edge habitats by donning a shell that reflected rather than absorbed light radiation levels that would kill its darker-shelled counterparts. Their study required them to track the light exposure levels both snail species experienced in a typical day, and that led them to join forces with the UM engineers who created the M3. The inventors call their M3 the "world's smallest computer."

The M3 system had an energy harvester that allowed it to recharge its battery using tiny solar cells. For the study, the snail sleuths measured levels of light by measuring the speed at which the battery charged.

On the island of Tahiti, part of the Society Islands, researchers glued the M3s directly to the rosy wolf snails' shells. P. hyalina is a protected species, so the scientists didn't place the M3s directly on their shells. Instead, they used magnets to place M3s on both the tops and undersides of leaves where they rested. They found that P. hyalina was routinely exposed to significantly higher solar radiation levels in its forest edge habitats than those endured by the predator.

This isn't the last hurrah for the M3. It's also being used by the University of Michigan in a project that aims to track monarch butterflies' migration paths. In the meantime, the Partulas will continue to roam the archipelago thanks to their pale, sun-kissed shells.

What Do Snails Eat?

Type of Snail Diet
Giant African Land Snail Vegetables, sand, bones, and small stones
Roman Snail Fruits, leaves, tree sap, and other plant matter
Garden Snail A vast range of plant matter, decomposed plants and animals, other crushed snails or worms
Mediterranean Green Snail Native plants, leaf surfaces, and grass
Orchid Snail Horticultural vegetation (orchids)
Atlantic Moon Snail Clams, other moon snails (cannibalistic)

Giant African Snails: devastating gardens and livelihoods in Solomon Islands

Giant African Snails (GAS Achtatina fulica), are a huge, but largely ignored, development issue in Solomon Islands. Native to Africa, these invasive snails are voracious eaters with an extremely high reproductive capacity – producing some 1800 eggs annually throughout their 3-5 year lifespan – and have exploded in numbers beyond control in the Honiara hinterland of northern Guadalcanal. GAS can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, and incursions into Auki, Small Malaita, and Gizo have recently been reported. Most critically, they are known to eat hundreds of plant species, including most vegetables and fruits grown in Solomon Islands as food crops.

The GAS invasion of Solomon Islands is not only a quickly unravelling environmental catastrophe but a huge threat to livelihoods. The majority of households in Solomon Islands rely heavily on gardens for subsistence production and also small-scale cash crops. 2009 Census results show that 89% of all households nationally were growing crops (38% of households for subsistence and 51% of households for both subsistence and sale). Even in Honiara, 42% of households were growing crops (35% subsistence 7% subsistence and sale). In short, gardens are absolutely critical for both rural and urban livelihoods.

GAS were introduced to Solomon Islands in 2006 – probably from Malaysian logging barges at the Ranadi industrial area in east Honiara (an area of very high infestation now there is even a local soccer team called the KG Snails!). Spreading very rapidly across Honiara’s urban and peri-urban areas, both naturally and through other means (particularly hitching on the movement of machinery), GAS quickly exceeded Biosecurity Solomon Islands’ (BSI) budget and capacity to control. For example, BSI’s total annual budget for pest control is SBD 2 million (AUD 317,000), whereas their estimate for the effective management of GAS alone is around SBD 10 million (AUD 1.6 million) per annum.

Control of the pest is thus largely left to households – a daily and time-consuming task involving hand collection and destroying through various methods (including drowning, burning, crushing, and salting). The focus of BSI’s efforts is on awareness and the provision of rapidly exhausted supplies of free bait for the public. Some hope and efforts, perhaps forlorn, have been directed at the use of predatory flatworms for control (FAO reports that the snail eating flatworm Platydemos manokwari, native to Australia and New Guinea and possibly Solomon Islands, has controlled GAS in Guam, the Philippines, and the Maldives – although the flatworm is also highly invasive and has caused the decline of native snails elsewhere). The flatworm has been found around Honiara, but has yet to show any appreciable impact on GAS or the garden destruction they cause.

Dean’s PhD research looked at the livelihood impacts of GAS (and also Little Fire Ants another invasive alien species) in Solomon Islands.[i] He found that GAS were causing significant impacts on both subsistence and cash crop farming. In many cases food crops were being almost entirely destroyed. In some cases, garden sizes were reduced by 80–90% in an attempt to manage GAS, affecting household subsistence and earning. Dean found that important cash crops, such as cocoa, have been substantially diminished in areas of snail infestation. People have responded by moving their gardens to avoid GAS but some have run out of snail-free places to move to. Communities report feeling overwhelmed by GAS numbers and also of being abandoned by the government, believing not enough is being done to address the issue. The presence of GAS also creates a significant labour burden – often falling on women – where control can take many hours of the day, as constant monitoring of gardens is required.

A vignette from Dean’s research exemplifies the livelihood impacts of GAS:

Situated just metres off the highway in a rural area east of Honiara, sits a group of three small houses. The homes belong to Donald and the other nine members of his extended family. Donald moved here with his family in 2001 and established gardens in which they grew a wide range of crops, which they used to feed the household and to sell in the central market in Honiara. Donald also obtained a labouring job which provided additional income for the family. All that changed however in 2007 when A. fulica arrived in their area. Since A. fulica arrived they no longer make gardens and grow their own food, because the snails eat all the crops. Although they tried to control it initially, snail numbers just kept on increasing and the problem became too hard for them. Now, according to Donald, every evening the snails cover the area around their houses like stones. They go into the houses and eat any food stored there, such as bananas and sweet potato. The snails also foul the houses with their droppings and slime trails, creating more work for his daughters who are responsible for keeping the houses clean. With no food or income from the garden the family has set up a roadside stall from which they sell betel nut that they buy from others and on sell. On a good day they make around SBD 100 [AUD 17] which they use to buy food to feed the entire family. The money Donald earns from his job helps but it is mainly used to cover other expenses like school fees. While it is a struggle, he has been able to keep the one school-aged child in school. What will happen when the others reach school age, he does not know. The widespread distribution of the snails also means that Donald is unable to call on wantok for support. They all face the same problem, he tells me. No one has enough to share. As we wrap up our interview, Donald reflects that what they have experienced with A. fulica has been really challenging for them that his family has fallen on hard times because of it. He admits that sometimes he just wants to give up but knows that he has to struggle on to survive and to support the family.

Donald’s story is likely mirrored by hundreds of households across northern Guadalcanal. Assistance is needed. However, despite widespread public concern about the substantial impact of GAS (and other invasive species such as the coconut rhinoceros beetle) on key subsistence and cash crops, the issue has not been prioritised by the Solomon Islands Government (SIG). SIG’s National Development Strategy 2016-2035, for example, makes no specific reference to GAS or wider objectives around control of invasive species, and BSI’s resources remain insufficient to control GAS. SIG’s major development partners – including Australia and New Zealand – have also been slow to recognise the clear threats to livelihoods and food security posed by the GAS and invasive species. The issue has received surprisingly little priority or resources given the fact that smallholder agriculture in Solomon Islands is estimated to account for at least 40% of GDP.

It is clear that Solomon Islands was unprepared for the destructive arrival of GAS. A legislative framework supported by donors has now been put in place – including the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (2009), the Agriculture Policy (2010–2015), and the National Biosafety Framework (2012), which all recommended the development of pest eradication plans, and the drafting of the new Biosecurity Act 2013 (enacted in March 2015). However, the new framework has yet to result in any actual ‘on ground’ actions to control GAS or other invasive species. Eradication plans are incomplete and unfunded, and resources allocated just do not match the scale of the threat.

Uncontrolled, GAS and other invasive species seem likely to continue to devastate gardens and livelihoods in Solomon Islands. GAS, and invasive species generally, are major development issues – worthy of much more focus from SIG and its development partners.

Luke Kiddle is a development practitioner and researcher. Dean Stronge investigated the livelihood impacts of invasive species in Solomon Islands for his PhD from Massey University’s Institute of Development Studies. Michael Pennay is an Australian ecologist who has lived in the Solomon Islands for the past three years, where he worked as an agricultural development officer at Tetere correctional farm.

[i] Stronge, Dean C. (2016). ‘Invasive Alien Species: A Threat to Sustainable Livelihoods in the Pacific? An Assessment of the Effects of Wasmannia auropunctata (little fire ant) and Achatina fulica (giant African snail) on Rural Livelihoods in the Solomon Islands’. PhD Thesis. Massey University, New Zealand.

Watch the video: Πως να διαλέξετε το κατάλληλο είδος σαλιγκάριου. (July 2022).


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