An invasive species of mollusk with no natural predators has forced the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDCAS) to issue a quarantine order for a community in Broward County, Florida.
Officials announced that several square miles of the city of Miramar, a Miami suburb, would be under quarantine as officials attempt to eradicate the snails from the area.
“Under the quarantine, it is unlawful to move a giant African land snail or a regulated article, including, but not limited to, plants, plant parts, plants in soil, soil, yard waste, debris, compost or building materials, within, through or from the defined quarantine area without a compliance agreement,” said a June 20 press release from FDCAS announcing the order.
While the name “giant African land snail” may sound innocuous, the animal is an environmental menace, said the agency’s website.
It “is one of the most damaging snails in the world and consumes at least 500 different types of plants,” it also noted.
Adult snails range in size from two to eight inches. They come in a variety of colors, according to FDCAS.
While they are illegal to possess as pets, the large size and unique color of some of the snails have made them “desirable” among collectors.
In 2021, the giant African land snail was finally eradicated, 10 years after it was detected in Miami-Date County.
The snails are illegal to possess in the United States without a permit, said FDCAS; they reproduce quickly, as females can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time and up to 2,500 a year.