Giant African Snail12/04/2021
Achatina fulica is a species of large land snail that belongs in the family Achatinidae. It is also known as the Giant African land snail. It shares the common name «Giant African Snail» with other species of snails such as Achatina achatina and Archachatina marginata.
This snail species has been considered a significant cause in pest issues around the world. Internationally, it is the most frequently occurring invasive species of snail.
Outside of its native range, this snail thrives in many types of habitat in areas with mild climates. It feeds voraciously and is a vector for plant pathogens, causing severe damage to agricultural crops and native plants. It competes with native snail taxa, is a nuisance pest of urban areas, and spreads human disease. This snail is listed as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world.
The species is native to East Africa but it has been widely introduced to other parts of the world through the pet trade, as a food resource, and by accidental introduction.
This species has been found in China since 1931 and its initial point of distribution in China was Xiamen. The snail has also been established on Pratas Island, of Taiwan throughout India, the Pacific, Indian Ocean islands, Southeast Asia and the West Indies. The species was established in the United States in 1936. They were brought to the U.S. through imports. They were intended to be used for educational uses and to be petted.
The adult snail is around 7 cm (2.8 in) in height and 20 cm (7.9 in) or more in length.
The shell has a conical shape, being about twice as high as it is broad. Either clockwise (dextral) or counter-clockwise (sinistral) directions can be observed in the coiling of the shell, although the dextral cone is the more common. Shell colouration is highly variable and dependent on diet. Typically, brown is the predominant colour and the shell is banded. The shell is particularly tough and has the highest heavy metal content of any snail species.
The Giant African Snail is a macrophytophagous herbivore; it eats a wide range of plant material, fruit, and vegetables, paper, and cardboard. It sometimes eats sand, very small stones, bones from carcasses, and even concrete as calcium sources for its shell. In rare instances, the snails consume each other, snail eggs, and other deceased small animals such as mice and birds.
In captivity, this species can be fed on a wide range of fruit and vegetables, plain unseasoned mince, or boiled egg.
This species is a simultaneous hermaphrodite; each individual has both testes and ovaries and is capable of producing both sperm and ova. Instances of self-fertilization are rare, occurring only in small populations. Although both snails in a mating pair can simultaneously transfer gametes to each other (bilateral mating), this is dependent on the size difference between the partners. Snails of similar size can reproduce in this way. Two snails of differing sizes mate unilaterally (one way), with the larger individual acting as a female, due to the comparative resource investment associated with the different sexes.