Giant African Snail Killed to Protect Australian Crops

By Scott, David Clark | The Christian Science Monitor, March 12, 2013 | Go to article overview

Giant African Snail Killed to Protect Australian Crops


Scott, David Clark, The Christian Science Monitor


Take look at the Giant African snail (Lissachatina fulica), and you can't help but be reminded of a scene from the 1996 movie Crocodile Dundee.

Our Australian hero Mick Dundee is approached by mugger in New York City. Dundee's girl warns him, "he's got a knife." Dundee replies, "That's not a knife," and he pulls out a foot-long Bowie knife."That's a knife."

You could imagine a similar scene playing out in a Brisbane, Australia, shipyard when a worker stumbled upon a Giant African snail.

This snail was almost as big as Mick Dundee's knife.

The Giant African snail can grow up to a foot in length and weigh up to 2 pounds. This particular specimen about the size of a cricket ball was quickly destroyed by Australia's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry.

The concern?

"Giant African Snails are one of the worlds largest and most damaging land snails," DAFF regional manager Paul Nixon said in a statement. The Brisbane Times reports that the "pest has an insatiable appetite and is capable of destroying 500 types of plants, including vegetable crops, fruit trees, and Australias native eucalypts"

Australias strict biosecurity requirements and responsive system has so far kept these pests out of Australia and we want to keep it that way," said Nixon.

Australian officials are no doubt aware of the battle that Floridians are now fighting with Giant African Snails, a rather pernicious invasive species.

This is how the US Department of Agriculture describes the exotic pest in a blog entitled: "Escargot? More like Escar-no!"

"Big and slimy, the giant African snail is well-equipped to become an invasive species: they have voracious appetites, reproduce quickly, live a long time, and have no natural predators in Florida. The first snails were discovered and reported by a Miami homeowner in September 2011. …

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