Updated: Oct 16, 2022
NOTICE: Invasive African Snail’s with Rat Lungworm Disease Found in Pasco County
From the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the huge invasive African snail is back. The moral of this sad story is do not support pet stores of any kind, especially exotic pet trade operations. Sadly, dogs are being tasked with cleaning up the mess that humans created. —Ellen Jaffe Jones
According to the FDACS website:
The giant African land snail (GALS) is one of the most damaging snails in the world and consumes at least 500 different types of plants. These snails could be devastating to Florida agriculture and natural areas as they cause extensive damage to tropical and subtropical environments. The snails also pose a serious health risk to humans by carrying the parasite rat lungworm, known to cause meningitis in humans. Giant African land snails are illegal to import or possess in the United States without a permit.
The giant African land snail has been eradicated twice in Florida. The first detection was in 1969 and was eradicated in 1975. The most recent eradication of this pest was in 2021 from a detection in 2011 in Miami-Dade County. Prior to the recent detection, the last live snail in Florida was collected in Miami-Dade County in December of 2017.
On June 23, 2022, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) confirmed the detection of giant African land snail in the New Port Richey area of Pasco County. This detection was reported by a Pasco County Master Gardener.
In June 2022, FDACS's Division of Plant Industry began to survey the area, enacted a quarantine, and started the treatment process to eradicate this detrimental agricultural pest. FDACS will treat properties with a metaldehyde-based molluscicide (snail bait). The treatment is labeled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for residential use.
On July 15, 2022, the Division of Plant Industry's Nematology Laboratory confirmed the presence of rat lungworm Angiostrongylus cantonensis in the population of giant African land snails in Pasco County. For more information regarding this parasite and how it can affect humans, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Angiostronglyus webpage. See a video of the lifecycle of the parasite.
Giant African land snails vary in phenotype (color pattern). The populations previously eradicated in South Florida had dark brown shells with grayish-brown flesh. The snails detected in Pasco County have light to dark brown shells with milky white flesh. The lighter fleshed snails are sometimes referred to as “albino GALS” and are more desirable in the illegal pet trade. If you are interested in adopting an invertebrate pet, please visit the USDA Invertebrate Pets website. Think you found a giant African land snail? Email a photo for identification to DPIHelpline@FDACS.gov.
A quarantine is in place starting at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 19 and Ridge Road. Proceed east on Ridge Road, south on Little Road, west on Trouble Creek Road, north on U.S. Highway 19 (see map). It is unlawful to move the giant African land snail or a regulated article, including but not limited to, plants, plants parts, plants in soil, soil, yard waste, debris, compost or building materials, within, through or from a quarantine area without a compliance agreement.