Florida has been beset with all manner of environmental hazards over the past several months.
Its wildlife officials are battling a python epidemic, the state is riddled with sinkholes, and its Apalachicola Bay oyster harvest is collapsing. As if that weren’t enough, though, it has now been invaded by rat-sized African snails that can carry a parasite deadly to humans.
Giant African land snails are vociferous, CNN reported. They are as big as rats and eat like goats, chomping through stucco, plastic recycling bins, signs and more than 500 species of plants, the Florida Department of Agriculture told CNN. Moreover, the snails’ calcium shells have edges sharp enough to blow out tires. If this invasive species gets too out of control, authorities fear, it could damage Florida’s crops.
They also carry a human parasite, rat lungworm, a form of meningitis that could kill, according to Denise Feiber of the Florida Department of Agriculture.
So far these slow-moving beasts reside only in Miami-Dade County, CNN said and authorities are hoping to keep them there. On the one hand it’s not as though they don’t move slowly enough to catch. On the other, with the capacity to produce up to 1,200 eggs annually, they can certainly replicate plenty during their nine-year lifespan.
“Since agriculture officials first discovered the snail invasion in 2011, trappers have collected more than 117,000,” CNN reported.