Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giant African Snail

Achatina fulica
Meet a member of the invasive species club-- the Giant Afican Snail is considered one of the top 100 worst Invasive Species on the planet. Ant not only are they on the top 100 list, they actually sit at #2!

African Giant Snails are naturally found in East Africa, but they have spread to warm locations around the world in the last few decades. They are large snails (hence the name), sporting shells that can grow to nearly 8in in length. They reach maturity after about 6 months, and can live as long as ten years. During that time they never really stop growing.

They are a hermaphroditic species, possessing both male and female reproductive organs. They do not reproduce asexually-- they need another snail. But their interesting reproductive system makes it easier to multiply, since they do not need to track down a member of the opposite sex.

They feed on over 500 different species of plant, so you can see why they are considered to be such a nuisance! However, the African Giant Snail isn't just considered troublesome because it eats native plants. They also carry parasites that can cause Meningitis in humans, as well as other diseases that can severely damage the crops that they don't consume. In order to keep the invasive Snails in check, quarantines, pesticides, and even flame throwers have been used.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : East Africa
Size : Length around 8in (22cm)
Classification : Phylum : Mollusca -- Class : Gastropoda -- Family: Achatinidae
Genus : Achatina -- Species : A. fulica

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