African Giant Snail

The African giant snail, in addition to being responsible for environmental damage, is capable of transmitting diseases.The African giant snail (Achatina fulica ) , or, simply, African snail, is a species that was introduced in Brazil in the 1980s as a way of replacing the famous escargot . The species, originally from Africa, was not well accepted, and several producers simply left these animals loose in the wild. Snails have reproduced in large quantities and are now found in practically all Brazilian states, being common, mainly, in the Southeast and Midwest regions.

→ Characteristics of the African giant snail

With a weight of approximately 200g, the African giant snail has a characteristic conical shell that can reach up to 15 cm and which presents a mottled pattern in light and dark brown tones. It is a terrestrial mollusk that has a semi-arboreal habit ( arbícola = being that lives in trees) and, therefore, it is common to find them in trees, walls and walls.

The species reaches sexual maturity relatively early, at about four to five months of age. The African giant snail can do up to four layings per year. Each of the eggs has up to 400 eggs, which explains the large number of individuals in our country.

→ Risks to public health and the environment

The African giant snail has become a major public health concern, as it is capable of hosting two important nematodes: Angiostrongylus costaricensis and A. cantonensis. The latter species is related to human eosinophilic meningitis, and A. costaricensis causes abdominal or intestinal angiostrongyliasis, which can cause death due to intestinal perforations.

In addition to causing disease, these mollusks are large pests that directly affect the environment. In the region where they are, they end up competing with the native fauna, decreasing the amount of food available for other species. This problem is extremely serious, as it can contribute to the decrease of individuals of some species or even cause their extinction.

→ Gathering of the African giant snail

In order to control these animals in our homes, some individual measures can be taken, such as cleaning the yard. One of the most used techniques is manual picking. Here’s how to proceed:

  • Always capture the animal using gloves;

  • Put them in a ditch;

  • Crush the animals in order to break their shells;

  • Cover them with soil to ground level.

It is worth noting that the use of salt to kill snails is not recommended, as this can trigger soil salinization.

CURIOSITY: Although the name “giant African snail” is widespread, this animal should be called a snail. The term snail is used for mollusks with aquatic life habits, which does not apply to the African giant snail.

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