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Giant African Land Snails

Giant African Land Snail

“Giant African land snail” is the common name used to describe any of three snail species native to Africa and considered serious agricultural pests in the United States. The giant African snail (Achatina fulica), the giant Ghana tiger snail (Achatina achatina), and margies (Archachatina marginata) are large, terrestrial snails that reach up to 20 cm (8 inches) in length and 10 cm (4 inches) in maximum diameter. These snails are about the size of an average-size adult fist. The brownish shell with darker brown vertical stripes covers at least half the length of the snail.

Giant African snails have a voracious appetite. They are known to eat at least 500 different types of plants, including peanut, beans, peas, cucumbers, and melons. If fruits or vegetables are not available, the snails will eat a wide variety of ornamental plants, tree bark, and even paint and stucco on houses.

The giant African land snail is an unwanted visitor to the United States. Although it has been traded at flea markets and kept as a pet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has never issued a permit to import the snails. All of the snails in the U.S. are here illegally.

As a reaction to the discovery of the snails in Indiana in 2005, the DNR issued a quarantine banning the snails in Indiana (312 IAC 18-3-19).

If these snails are seen, IMMEDIATELY report them by contacting the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection & Quarantine, at 765-446-0267 or the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, at 866-NO-EXOTIC.

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