Official Pest Report

Official Pest Reports are provided by National Plant Protection Organizations within the NAPPO region. These Pest Reports are intended to comply with the International Plant Protection Convention's Standard on Pest Reporting, endorsed by the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures in March 2002.

Alert for Trade in Achatina spp., Giant African Snails, as Pets

Country: United States

Title: Alert for Trade in Achatina spp., Giant African Snails, as Pets

Not available


In recent days, APHIS inspectors have seized almost 100 specimens of Achatina fulica, Giant African Snails, in commercial pet stores and from a private breeder in Wisconsin. Initial Internet searches have indicated that there may be significant private ownership of Giant African Snails resulting in the sale of the snails by commercial businesses and private citizens. There are reports that these snails may also be available at exotic animal shows and “swap meets.” Presently, the pest is only known to be established in Hawaii. Possession of this snail is ILLEGAL in the continental United States. 

Giant African Snails, Achatina achatina (L.), Achatina fulica Bowdich, and other species in the family Achatinidae (Gastropoda), are large, terrestrial snails of African origin that cause extensive damage to plants in tropical and subtropical agricultural systems and the environment. These snails also carry serious diseases which can affect humans, including Angiostrongylus cantonensis and, potentially, A. costaricensis. These diseases can be contracted by ingesting improperly cooked snail meat, or by handling live snails and transferring the snail mucus to human mucus membranes (eyes, nose, and mouth). Snails should be handled carefully with latex gloves. Shells of mature Giant African Snails are brown in color with darker, irregular, longitudinal marks and attain lengths of nearly eight inches (20 cm) and widths of almost four inches (10 cm). Eggs are ovate, average an inch or more in length, creamy white to yellow in color and may have brown blotches. Species in this group inhabit many African countries; Indo-Pacific areas including Hawaii, Brazil; and parts of the Caribbean Basin including Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. Like other exotic land snails, Giant African Snails may enter the United States as hitchhikers on imported cargo. However, PPQ has intercepted these pests more frequently at airports from arriving international travelers who may consume the snails as meat or folk medicine, or who want to keep them as pets. 

APHIS malacology specialists recommend the following methods for destroying seized adult and juvenile snails and their eggs:
• Put deep freezer (-10 o C) for three days
• Boil
• Immerse in alcohol (rubbing alcohol or ethanol)

Collect and incinerate or autoclave all soil and debris from terrariums holding Giant African Snails. Disinfect tanks with alcohol or full strength bleach. 

A pest alert and documents describing these snails are being prepared for dissemination to industry and the public. APHIS personnel are actively investigating sources and owners of Giant African Snails and will continue to seize and destroy all available specimens. We welcome cooperation and communication with State Plant Regulatory Officials on this issue. 

Posted Date: Nov. 14, 2003, 9 a.m.