Early July, 15 rare large giant snails were confiscated from a passenger who landed at the George Bush International airport. They were seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The passenger was traveling from Nigeria and had declared dried beef initially but later changed the declaration and added snails. The snails were handed over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The snails were found in three plastic zip locking bags. The bags also contained 0.25 pounds of beef and fresh leaves.
The USDA identified the snails as Giant Land Snails also known as Banana Rasp Snails. This is not the first time that these snails have been found in Houston. According to Click2Houston, in 2013, a woman found these snails in her backyard and reported it to authorities. Researchers at Sam Houston State University dealt with the matter.
Native to West Africa, Giant Land Snails can cause a rare form of meningitis in humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there have been over 2,800 cases of this type of meningitis in about 30 countries.
These African snails are also considered to be an invasive species. Invasive species generally take over a habitat and negatively affect the following:
- natural ecosystems
- human health
- commercial activities.
Houston CBP Port Director Shawn Polley said that their agricultural specialists are ever vigilant as they protect the nation from foreign and animal diseases that could affect crop production, the livestock industry or cause human transmission.
The USDA website says that Giant Land Snails have been found in Southern Florida in the sixties. Authorities took almost a decade and spent $1 million to remove this invasive species. They grow up to the size of a fist — approximately 8 inches long and 5 inches wide.
Giant Land Snails are prolific reproducers. They can produce 1,200 eggs in a year and take over fruit crops and more. They have a varied diet and consume about 500 types of plant and are creatures that cause a lot of damage all over the world.