Monday, 15 April 2013

Giant snail invasion: Florida infested by giant rat-sized snails

Giant snail invasion: Florida infested by giant rat-sized snails, South Florida is fighting a big-time infestation of one of the world's most destructive species, and they aren't what everyone would think. Reuters reported on Sunday, April 14, 2013, that a giant snail invasion has come to South Florida, and it isn't good. These giant African land snails can grow as big as rats and are able to gnaw through stucco and plaster.

More than 1,000 of the snails are being caught every week in Miami-Dade and a total of 117,000 have been captured since the first snail was spotted back in Sept. of 2011.

View slideshow: A giant snail invasion has hit South Florida
Residents are soon likely to begin encountering the giant snails more often. The snails will begin emerging from underground hibernation at the start of Florida's rainy season in just about seven weeks, per Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The giant snail invasion will attack "over 500 known species of plants ... pretty much anything that's in their path and green," Feiber said.

In some Caribbean countries, such as Barbados and others, the snails overrun the entire area. They actually are able to blow out tires on the highway and lawnmowers can turn them into hurling projectiles.That isn't even to mention the slime and excrement they ooze out that can coat walls and pavement.

"It becomes a slick mess," said Feiber.

A typical one of the creatures can produce about 1,200 egg a year, and that helps the giant snail invasion grow quickly. The creatures are a particular pest in homes due to the fact that they love stucco due to the calcium they need for their shells.

One more awful thing about this giant snail invasion is that they carry a parasitic rat lungworm that can cause illness in humans. It includes a form of meningitis, Feiber said. No such cases have been identified as of yet in the United States.

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