UPDATE: Call off the snail-hunting committee! The giant snail in question is not a giant African snail but a rosy wolfsnail, which is considerably more benign and also sounds more like a Doctor Who reference.
Houston, Texas, is the latest place to find itself the unlucky host to a rather large African snail, which, sadly, does not have any plans to benefit its newly acquired habitat. A woman working in a Houston garden stumbled on a single snail, but officials fear this was only one snail among more, and possibly many.
In case you were under the misapprehension that being a giant African snail involves a minimum of nefarious activity, well, sorry. These snails are pretty evil, even if they don’t mean to be. Here’s what we wrote about them back when one showed up in Australia:
It can lay 1,200 eggs a year, and those 1,200 babies are so ravenous that when Florida suffered an infestation in 1975, it caused an estimated $11 million a year in damages. It’s the size of a baseball generally, but can grow up to a foot long and weigh 2.2 pounds. It snacks on 500 different crops, but in a pinch it’ll also eat your house — at least in Florida, where a lot of the houses are made out of stucco. Oh, and it carries a parasite that can give humans meningitis. But other than that, they’re great neighbors!
So how, exactly, did these house-eating, disease carrying vermin get here? Some of them came attached to cargo ships. Others may have been imported as pets and then released into the wild. One thing about them that is for sure: You should not touch them. Meningitis is NOT GOOD.
(And if you live in the Briar Forest neighborhood of Houston: heads up. That snail got away. Be on the lookout for him, or one of his 7,000 potential snail brothers.)
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