DOINews: USGS Leetown Science Center Studying Invasive Giant African Land Snail

Last edited 09/05/2019

Researcher holding invasive,giant,land snail

The giant African land snail is an invasive species that has been shown to harbor numerous pathogens responsible for diseases that can sicken and even kill wildlife, domestic animals and humans. They also consume over 500 different species of plants, including many of agricultural significance!

Calcium is necessary for shell development. To obtain calcium, snails have been found eating stucco and paint off of the houses in southern Florida. In the continental U.S. these snails are mainly in the Miami area. These snails are serial spawners and each one can potentially produce thousands of eggs in their lifetime. They are a hardy species that can hibernate up to a year, so they aren't climate limited to the degree of many invasive species.

Besides looking at pathogens, researchers at the USGS' Leetown Science Center's Fish Health Branch, have developed novel genetic markers that will determine where the giant African land snails are coming from. This work is a collaboration between Cheryl Morrison and Deborah Iwanowicz of USGS, and Chris Wade at the University of Nottingham, England, who has generously supplied samples of snails from around the world. This information will allow accurate tracking of the snails country of origin, since they are also found in Nepal, Burma, Tahiti, Thailand and other locations. This information will help government personnel determine possible points of entry to the U.S. and will help guard against future introductions.

By: U.S.Geological Survey

Feb. 26, 2015

Related Links:

Related USGS Facebook post

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

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