See The Giant Land Snails That Forced A Florida Town Into Quarantine

By Nathan Kamal | Published

giant land snail

Nature is a complex and delicate set of overlapping systems. Although the force of the living planet can create hurricanes that ravage entire seaboards and earthquakes that will make California break off and fall into the sea any day now (probably), it often can take only one tiny thing out of place to completely throw Mother Nature off her groove. In this case, the tiny thing is actually pretty giant and they are land snails that have forced a town in Florida to go into quarantine, which is something the state of Florida was pretty resistant to doing even during a deadly global pandemic. But that just goes to show the quiet, underreported power of the snail.

According to Metro UK, giant African land snails have been detected in the town of New Port Richey in Florida’s Pasco County. While one might say, so what? A snail is a snail, you would be underestimating the slow, viscous ability of the giant land snail to devastate a foreign environment. For another, check out just how giant these land snails actually are:

That is one giant land snail. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services first detected the presence of the invasive species near the end of June 2022 and announced a quarantine on the area; while the Covid-19 pandemic quarantines were intended to restrict human movement in an effort to slow down the spread of a deadly virus, this particular quarantine prevents residents from moving any soil, plants, etc. outside the area to attempt to keep the giant land snails contained.  

The giant African land snail is considered one of the most dangerous invasive species in the world. For one thing, they eat almost everything; the snail has been known to eat over 500 varieties of vegetation and will actually begin eating the stucco off buildings if left unchecked. That’s right, these giant land snails will literally eat your home. For another thing, they have no known predators, so we cannot rely on the ecosystem to keep their population down. And for a third and fourth thing, a single snail can live up to nine years in the wild and they reproduce at a frantic rate, laying over a thousand eggs in a single year. 

Obviously, the giant land snail is terrible for the vegetation of an area and for the native fauna that rely on it. They also can carry a parasite that transmits meningitis to humans, a bacterial infection that can potentially cause death within a few hours. The parasitic infection can be transferred merely by handling the giant land snails (if handling giant slimy ravagers is your thing), but is more often transmitted by someone eating the snail. The snail is actually eaten in a number of cultures, and a particularly deadly and unstoppable attempt to transport them to the South Pacific as a foodstuff has nearly eradicated the native snail population. 

Florida is attempting to destroy the giant land snail infestation with carpet blanketing the area with toxic gases and has spent millions trying to control them. But if that one episode of The Simpsons in which they got to Australia has taught us anything, it is that you can’t stop this path of destruction once it has started.