Florida Town Placed Into Quarantine After Giant African Land Snails Invade

Giant snails, ’nuff said.

The snails harbor parasites that can cause meningitis in humans.

A town in Florida has been placed under quarantine measures after giant African land snails were found in the New Port Richey area of Pasco County.

The snails, which can grow up to 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) in length, are damaging to vegetation and agriculture given their massive appetites, and can even feed on carcass bones at a push when other calcium-rich foods are scarce. They also pose a threat to human health more directly, as they carry the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or rat lungworm, which is known to cause meningitis in humans.

The species is particularly hard to get rid of, as Florida has already discovered several times over. Their first appearance in the state was in 1969, before their eradication six years later. The second detection in 2011 saw them stick around for a whole decade.

“They can reproduce as young as four months old, laying many thousands of eggs in its multiple-year life span,” according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

“These snails can move long distances when they cling to vehicles and machinery, or in yard trash. During unfavorable environmental conditions, the snail can bury itself in soil and remain inactive for up to a year.”