Achatina fulica (Bowdich)
Significance: The Giant African Snail (Achatina fulica) has now been reported in Antigua. Survey efforts and alerts to the public were implemented immediately. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Plant Protection Unit for Antigua reports that eradication may be feasible since detection occurred at the early stages of infestation and they have responded immediately. (Anon, 2008a; 2008b) Currently, there are no established populations in the continental United States or the rest of the NAPPO region. Hawaii is the only region within North America where the Giant African Snail is present (USDA-APHIS, 2008). This is not the first report of the Giant African Snail in the Caribbean (see NAPPO-PAS, 2000).
Issues of Concern: Achatina fulica is considered one of the most serious terrestrial snail pests in the world. Not only is it able to feed upon an extremely broad range of plants and survive in a wide array of habitats, this snail also presents a human health risk with its ability to vector the parasitic rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis. This parasite causes eosinophilic meningitis in humans. Achatina fulica is also a vector of a gram-negative bacterium, Aeromonas hydrophila, which causes a wide range of symptoms, particularly in persons with compromised immune systems. (Robinson, 2002) This snail is one of the largest terrestrial snails, reaching up to 8 inches in length and 5 inches in diameter. They are long-lived snails, capable of surviving up to 9 years (average 3-5 years) and once mated are able to retain sperm within their bodies for multiple clutches of eggs. Under ideal conditions up to 1000 eggs per year can be laid. (Robinson, 2002)
Anon. 2008a. Potentially harmful snail found in Antigua. AntiguaSun. Posted April 08, 2008.
Anon. 2008b. Sightings of dangerous African Land Snail raise concern. AntiguaSun. Posted April 14, 2008.
ISGG. 2006. Achatina fulica (mollusc). Global Invasive Species Database. http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=64&fr=1&sts
NAPPO-PAS. 2000. Pest Alert: Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica Bowdich. An emerging snail in the Caribbean which poses a threat to both agriculture and human health. http://www.pestalert.org/viewArchPestAlert.cfm?rid=10
NAPPO-PAS. 2003. U.S. Official Pest Report: Alert for Trade in Achatina spp., Giant African Snails, as Pets. http://www.pestalert.org/oprDetail.cfm?oprID=92
Robinson, D. G. 2002. IICA Report on Giant African Snails Workshop. December 4-5, 2005.
USDA-APHIS. 2004. Pest Alert: Giant African Snails: A Foreign Threat to U.S. Agriculture. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/pa_phgas.pdf
USDA-APHIS. 2007a. Plant Pest Information for the Giant African Snail. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/gas/index.shtml
USDA-APHIS. 2007b. New Pest Response Guidelines. Giant African Snails, Snail Pests in the Family Achatinidae. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/manuals/emergency/downloads/nprg_gas.pdf
USDA-APHIS. 2008.Species Profile for the Giant African Snail. National Invasive Species Information Center. http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/africansnail.shtml