General Description and Location
East African land snails are also referred to as Giant African land snails, or Achatina fulica. Even though these snails produce fairly beautiful colored conical shells ranging in size from 7 – 20 centimeters, they are considered one of the most invasive species in the world. While most snails produce shells that range in various shades of brown, they can also occur with cream or pinkish coloring and banding. As you may suspect from their name, Giant African land snails originated in Kenya and Tanzania. They are found throughout the tropical regions of the Pacific as well as East Asia and the Caribbean
Problems for Humans and Animals
East African land snails pose a hazard to humans as well as animals and plants. While these snails will not bite or cause other types of damage, they act as hosts to a wide range of pathogens that can infect humans and animals. This includes intestinal worms and meningitis.
These snails are also avid consumers of fruits, vegetables, and other plant materials. In some areas, they are known to wipe out entire crops, as well as forests, grasslands, and scrub brush. Today, it is illegal to keep East African land snails as pets in the United States and other parts of the world. Unfortunately, these snails have already colonized many areas, and pose a serious hazard to native organisms in target regions.
Even though these snails pose a number of problems, they can still be consumed by humans. In some areas, governments are debating promoting this usage of snails, since it may also encourage further growth by individuals that want to grow them for commercial purposes. Needless to say, if you see these snails in your garden, you can always do some research to find out how to cook them and save some money on your food bill.
When it comes to eliminating these snails from your garden, it is important to realize they will eat just about anything. This includes animal bones as well as plant materials and beer. Unlike other snails, East African Land Snails will actually thrive on the yeast that remains in this particular beverage. That said, you can still spray them with wet coffee grinds, as well as use lemon and orange peels to get rid of them. Since snails also receive an electrical shock from copper, you can try spreading pennies around your garden, as well as make use of copper cages.
If you live in an area where these snails are considered a threat to the local habitat, the government may already be employing a range of solutions. This includes salting the ground, as well as using a wide range of pesticide and weed killers. Since these snails harbor pathogens and pose other risks, you should still contact your local board of health if you see them. At the very least, you can find out if there is a program in place to manage them, as well as determine if you need to take additional steps to get rid of them.
At the current time, East African land snails are considered an invasive species in the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and East Asia. They are also widely found in Brazil and some parts of the United States.