Click here to learn more.
A fellow veterinarian recently remarked on the unique ecosystem we enjoy down here in South Florida. As a lifelong Northeasterner, she couldn’t seem to fathom the biological extremes our weather makes possible, a list that has grown from alligator-eating snakes to include — get this — giant African land snails.
“Have you seen any of those giant snails?” she asked. “Jeez, it’s like South Florida is some kind of biosphere gone awry!”
Yes, I happen to have seen my share of these. Luckily, however, none have thus far seen fit to invade my personal space. In fact, I’ve only ever witnessed these things in the context of a “what’ll-this-thing-do-to-my-dog?” vet visit.
Which is bad enough. Because in case you haven’t yet heard tell of these strange invertebrates, let me describe: They look like fist-size slugs encased in a crunchy striped shell. Think escargot in the Land of the Lost, where everything is at least a thousand times bigger than you’d expect it to be. Not appetizing.
Giant African land snails have even been compared in size to New York rats. Which is kind of apropos, seeing as they’re about as welcome as any sewer-dwelling rodent. After all, National Geographic Magazine tells us these creatures have been known to eat 500 species of plants here in South Florida — a big deal for our native flora, our agricultural economy and, potentially, for the U.S. food supply, too.
Ahhh, the spoils of globalization. It’s as if the entire world conspired to set loose its creepiest crawliest in our backyard. Like one big science experiment run amok:
“Hey, Mom, let’s take it to Florida! It’ll be happy down there with all those slithery things in the Everglades. Maybe it’ll make friends with the pythons!”
Yet it’s no idle curiosity that brings these animals here from way over in Nigeria. Seems the snails are part of some religious ritual, a distinction that apparently earned them lots of covert plane tickets to Miami, among other choice destinations.
Indeed, these giant African land snails also managed to make landfall in Brazil, too. But that’s where its globetrotting similarities to South Florida’s end.
There, the Brazilians worried less about the impact on household pets and the environment and took to solving this invertebrate dilemma one meal at a time. Which makes me think we South Floridians should learn to hold our noses long enough to adopt their motto: “When all else fails, just call it a delicacy.”
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
Sparky the dog's owner pulled him from an icy lake, and then the pup helped two men rescue his owner after she…
Ignoring your pup's bouncing and giving him something to carry in his mouth are a few simple ways to prevent…
Between the ages of 7 and 9, your cat is old enough to have some stable wisdom but still young enough for whimsical…
If you travel a lot or can’t afford a dog’s health care costs, maybe it’s not the right time to…
If your pup is tearing up the house while you’re gone, that could be a sign that she needs more physical…
The gentle, affectionate and sociable Selkirk Rex is a good traveler and excellent therapy cat.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.