The Giant African land snail grows as large as a rat and can eat through the walls of a home – and they’re invading southern Florida. Hundreds of thousands of the snails are emerging from hibernation and eating through everything in their path. Destruction by digestion aside, their shells are so hard, they can blow out the tires of a car and their excrement and slime coat walls and roads with a gooey mess. And if all that is not bad enough, the snails also carry a parasitic rat lungworm that can cause illness in humans, including a form of meningitis.
Scientists are working hard to eradicate the invasive species, which they think came from Africa via tourists who purchased them as pets.
“They’re huge, they move around, they look like they’re looking at you … communicating with you, and people enjoy them for that. But they don’t realize the devastation they can create if they are released into the environment where they don’t have any natural enemies and they thrive.”