Ahh, classic Florida. Crazy stuff going on that makes for good news content!
The state of Florida thought it had succeeded in eradicating the giant African
land snail, an extremely invasive species. That is until last week when one was discovered in a town just north of Tampa.
A gardener reported seeing one, the first time one had been reported outside the southern part of Florida. The story was confirmed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, locating the snails in Pasco County, more specifically New Port Richey.
The snail is native to Eastern Africa and can grow up to eight inches long. These types of snails are illegal to own in the US, as they are so invasive. Despite this, exotic pet owners still keep them and they probably returned to Florida as a result of that illegal animal trade.
Once they get out the snails can produce up to 2,500 eggs in a year, quickly spreading and populating an area where they were supposed to no longer inhabit. The snails are incredibly damaging to the environment, eating 500 different types of plants and even feeding on building materials causing damage to homes as well as carrying parasites that can hurt humans.
In an effort to stop the snails from spreading, Pasco County was placed under quarantine where residents were prohibited from moving plants, building materials, yard waste, and more from the area.
Good luck to the county and I hope they get all of the snails before real damage can be done.