Giant African Land Snail

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The African Snail (Achatina fulica) is an introduced species, being native to Africa.

The shell is brown with darker bands. It is often found in gardens, parks and other disturbed habitats, but rarely seen in forests.

It lacks the thickened outer lips seen in the previous species. Young snails prefer succulent plants and are very problematic agricultural pests.

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Adult snails appear to prefer rotting plant matter. It can grow up to 7cm tall.

These  Giant African land snail are commonly found in Singapore neighbours.

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Locally, this species is extremely common in most urban and suburban areas, and can often be seen crawling on the pavement especially at night or in the morning.

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First recorded in Singapore in the 1920s, it is not known how it arrived here, although it is plausible that trade between East Africa, India and Malaya helped expedite the process.

There is a huge risk of the giant African snail (Achatina fulica) being spread and introduced into new locations via trade routes. It is frequently moved with agricultural products, equipment, cargo and plant or soil matter.

The snails ability to store sperm is a distinct advantage and could enable a founding population to form from just one individual.

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Targeting risk industries such as nurseries, farmers markets, vehicle depots is important to prevent long distance spread of the snail.

Small snails and eggs may be inadvertently transported with agricultural, horticultural, and other commercial products and the containers they are shipped in.

The threat lies in its ability to multiply at enormous speed. The snails reach maturity after a year and can then produce 200-300 eggs a month, leading to huge infestations within a short space of time.

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The snails, which are native to East Africa, appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of the world’s top 100 invasive species.

But the snails are not just an unsightly pest. They can also kill.

In tropical regions, giant African snails, as well as other types of slugs and snails, can carry a nematode – a kind of parasite – called the rat lungworm. These minute worms, if ingested, enter the circulation and travel to the brain, where they can lead to eosinophilic meningitis.

Symptoms range from headaches to tingling, numbness and involuntary flexing of muscles. In severe cases, sufferers may go into coma and die.

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The snails can eat hundreds of plant species, including vegetable crops (and even calcium-rich plaster and stucco), and have been described as a major threat to agriculture.

Some researchers suggest the risk to agriculture has been exaggerated from account of damage in gardens.

There is no accounts of giant African land snails destroying natural ecosystems.

Looks like its safer to keep my pet Zell away from these slugs.

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