Who knew the Sunshine State had a problem with snails? Giant African land snails to be precise. But Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced Thursday there has been success in the battle to eradicate them.
“After two years of battling this invasive and destructive pest, we are confident that we will win this fight,” Putnam said in a statement from his office. “We’re now using a more effective bait and, with the help of canine detector teams, we’re able to detect snails in areas that were previously difficult to access.”
That’s right, they’re using dogs. The department is thinking outside the box, recently implementing innovative techniques to detect and eliminate the snails. The dog detector teams, trained specifically to sniff out this breed of snails, along with more effective bait and traps and enhanced inspections, have resulted in eliminating more than 128,000 of the pests in just two years, according to the statement.
“Support from the local community has been critical to the success of the eradication program,” Putnam said. “Residents of Miami-Dade have been great partners in helping us find the snails and mitigate their impact.”
Scientists consider giant African land snails one of the most damaging in the world because they are known to consume at least 500 different types of plants and can cause structural damage to buildings by eating plaster and stucco.
Some snails even cause a public health concern by carrying a parasite that can cause a form of meningitis in humans and animals.
The giant African land snail – known in the scientific community as the Achatina fulica – is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to eight inches in length, living up to nine years and producing about 1,200 eggs in a typical year, according to the statement. So far, none have been found in Florida outside of Miami-Dade County.
Residents who believe they have found a snail should call the department’s toll-free snail-line at 888-397-1517 or go to the website at FreshFromFlorida.com.