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Giant African Snail (Achatina Fulica)

Facts, Identification & Control

The Giant African snail is one of the biggest land snails. 

Where do they live?

Giant African snails thrive where the climate is hot and humid but it is also capable of living in temperate climates.

The Giant African snails eat leaves, flowers, fruits, stems, barks, wood, seeds, grains, nuts, seaweed, lichens, fungi and other snails. They need calcium to keep and grow hard shells and if they aren’t able to get enough calcium in their diet from plants, they may feed on bones from carcasses, sand, concrete or small stones to get it.

How do they live?

The shell of the giant African snail reaches up to 200 mm in length and up to 120 mm in diameter. The shell is conical and narrow, with 7 to 9 visible spirals on its surface. An adult weighs about 32 grams. The body has two short tentacles and two long ones that have the eyes. The shell colour varies but is commonly brown.

They have a “muscular foot” that helps them move releasing a mucus while they move to reduce friction and avoid damage to their tissues.

Giant African snails are simultaneous hermaphrodites, producing both sperm and ova.

On average they lay 5-6 clutches of eggs per year and lay their eggs beneath the ground or between rocks and vegetation. They reach sexual maturity in less than a year. They lay up to 100 eggs in their first year and up to 500 eggs in their second year. Though their fecundity decreases after the second year, a snail that lives up to 5 years can have a total egg clutch of up to 1,000 eggs. Ergo, this species can quickly become a pest. It has a normal lifespan of about 3-5 years; but some may live as long as 9 years.

Achatina fulica are mostly active during the night, and during the day they remain dormant, often buried beneath the ground to stay safe from predators.

How do they affect us?

They feed on more than 500 types of plants, including economically valuable ones farmed by humans. The species is one of the most dangerous pests in agriculture and can transmit various diseases to both animals and humans such as the rat lungworm dwelling in the snails.

How do we control them?

The following practices may be employed to control infestations: collecting and destroying hiding snails, using snail bait or sprinkling salt, lime or bleaching powder in the infested area.