Friday, September 23, 2011


Giant African Snails are the biggest land snails in the whole wide world!  Right now they are busy eating Miami, which is a big, important city in Florida.  So I think we can all agree that if Miami got eaten, that would be bad.  Giant African Snails are what you would call an "invasive species," which is kind of like being aliens from outer space.  When an invasive species gets started in a whole new place, sometimes it just takes over and causes all sorts of problems.

The scientific name of the Giant African Snail is Achatina fulica.  This species started out in East Africa, but now it has slimed its way into quite a bit of Asia, like especially China.  Also it is found on islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and in the West Indies.  Sometimes these snails are imported as exotic pets, and other times the snails or their eggs get into a ship's cargo by accident.

It is illegal to import Giant African Snails to the U.S. as pets or to keep them as pets.  They are only allowed to come here if they have a special permit, and if they will be used for research.  Giant African Snails like to eat pretty much any kind of plant, and they are very good at destroying crops.  Here are a few of the things they eat:  cocoa, papaya, peanuts, rubber trees, beans, peas, cucumbers, melons, cassava, garbage, animal poop, human poop, and even other Giant African Snails.

It's hard to tell what's going on here,
but it's supposed to be two snails mating.
Also, those white round things are eggs.
One reason these snails are such a big problem is that they make tons of baby snails, really fast, like even faster than rabbits make baby rabbits.  Giant African Snails are hermaphrodites, which means that each snail has both boy parts and girl parts.  This is very weird, if you ask me, which no one did!  But anyhow, the way this works is that any two snails can get together and mate, and then either of them, or both of them could lay eggs.  One snail can produce about 1,200 eggs a year, which is a lot of eggs!  An adult snail can grow up to be 10 inches long and 4 inches wide, and it might live as long as 9 years.

So you may be wondering how the snails got to Florida, since it is illegal for them to come there.  And the answer is that nobody knows for sure.  People just started finding snails eating their flowers and vegetable gardens.  Also the snails like to eat plaster and stucco off of houses because it gives them calcium for their shells.  And wherever they go, they leave their icky-looking poop behind.

It's possible that the snails came to Florida in 2010 when a woman smuggled some in from Africa by hiding them under her dress.  Ewww!  Talk about a creepy thing to have under your clothes!  Anyway, this woman brought the snails to a man who uses them in his rituals when he practices an African religion called Ifa Orisha.  I'm not sure what kind of rituals he does with snails, but Mom says that sometimes it's better if we don't know these things!

Anyway, back in the 1960s, Miami had an invasion of Giant African Snails, and the way it happened was that a boy smuggled three snails in from Hawaii to keep as pets.  Well, then those three snails made more snails, and the boy's grandmother got tired of having them around, so she put them out in her garden.  This was a huge mistake, because it took the state of Florida 10 years and a million dollars to get rid of all the snails, which added up to at least 18,000 all together.

Meanwhile, in Africa, where lots of people are starving to death, some groups are studying ways to use the snails for yummy, healthy meals.  It turns out that snail meat has more protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and other good vitamins than beef does.  Also, it's easy and cheap to get.  One good way to eat it is to make it into a pie.  But you have to be sure you cook the snails properly so you won't get meningitis from a parasite that likes to live in the snails.

I have to say that I think the snail pie looks like it would be quite tasty, and if someone served me one, I would definitely eat it.  But I don't like the idea of Giant African Snails eating Miami, because after they eat that city, they might go on to eat Atlanta and Richmond and Washington, D.C.  And if they came to Kansas City, they might eat our new lawn and all of Mom's flowers, which would be a bad thing.  So I would just like to ask all the Giant African Snails to please go back to Africa right now and let themselves be made into pies!


  1. Well....after living a few years in California, the only word I can think of to describe my opinion of snails is YUCKY!! We didn't have the BIG snails you blogged about today, but there were lots and lots of snails...the snails would cover our house and many other houses too. UGH!! Having said all that, I did NOT know there were these giant snails and I think they should just leave...go away! LOL!
    Love, AP

  2. I'm glad that you agree these big snails are really yucky. I didn't know there were so many snails in California. I think I don't want to ever live there if there are lots of creepy snails. Not to mention earthquakes.

    Love, Piper

  3. The snail video is honestly makes you sick to your stomach! If someone doesn't act fast now, our whole world will be full of them!

    1. a little olive oil, a ltttle garlic ... problem solved:)

  4. i want some information about snail