Florida residents forced to quarantine by giant snails the size of mice

Rub! These are the things that nightmares are made of! A town in Florida is under quarantine after officials discovered a growing population of giant African snails. These creatures can grow up to 8 inches long, which is the typical size of larger rats. They pose a threat to humans and the environment in which the species invades.

Giant land snails are native to East Africa, but the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has confirmed their presence in Pasco County. A county master horticulturist reported the presence of the pest in the New Port Richey area, and FDACS confirmed it on June 23.

How did African snails end up in Florida?

FDACS spokeswoman Christina Chitty told CNN that “illegal pet trade” activities can cause infection. Those living in the United States must obtain a permit to import or possess giant snails.

When exotic pet owners release or lose giant snails, they become a nuisance to the surrounding community. Besides their growth, the snails also eat at least 500 species of plants. But they don’t just threaten local trees. Exotic animals also treat paint and mortar from houses and buildings as a delicacy.

Their latest invasion marks the third time the species has appeared in Florida. They were first discovered in 1969 but were not eradicated until 1975. Then they were exterminated again last year after being discovered in Miami-Dade County in 2011. However, Officials say the last snail collected alive in Florida was in December 2017.

This is how officials plan to deal with snails

It’s unclear how many snails there are in the Pasco County area. However, Christina said to CNN Snails can lay up to 2,500 eggs in a year, which causes a lack of population control. In addition to an investigation, FDACS has implemented a special isolation measure for residents.

“The movement of a giant African land snail or a regulated item, including but not limited to, plants, plant parts, soil plants, soil, yard waste, debris, debris, compost or building materials, in, through, or from an area quarantine with no compliance agreement,” the FDACS website states.

People who live between the “northwest corner of U.S. Highway 19 and Ridge Road” have been affected by the quarantine, which began June 25. Earlier this week, on June 29, the department began treated with metaldehyde. This chemical is classified as an insecticide that targets snails and slugs.

If the animal consumes any metaldehyde, it will find a hiding place to stay dormant and die within a few days. Additionally, chemicals disrupt their mucus production, which then limits their digestive functions and mobility. With digestion and movement, snails are at risk of dehydration.

It is said to be safe for use on crops, trees, plants and residential areas. Metaldehyde comes in many forms, including spray, granular, dust, and tablet form.

Giant African Ground Snail Program Treatment Area
Source: FDACS
Giant snail can cause meningitis in humans

The FDACS website advises people not to handle giant snails “without gloves”. This is because these animals can be carriers of parasitic rat lungworms, which can lead to meningitis in humans.

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