Introduced Pests Outreach Project

Giant African Land Snail

(Click on an image below to see the captioned full-size version)
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5

Scientific Name: Achatina fulica
Common Names: Giant African Land Snail

Giant African Snails are carriers of the rat parasite, Angiostrongylus cantonensis. This parasite can be contracted by ingesting improperly cooked snail meat or by handling live snails and transferring snail mucus to the human mucus membranes such as those in the eyes, nose, and mouth.

If you have a Giant African Land Snail, PLEASE DO NOT RELEASE IT OUTSIDE OR GIVE IT AWAY. You will not be penalized for voluntarily turning in a Giant African Land Snail. Please call Tricia Sharp at 617.565.7035 (office) or 617.851.7860 (cell) if you have a Giant African Land Snail in your possession. If you reside outside the state of Massachusetts, please contact your contact State Department of Agriculture or the APHIS State Plant Health Director.

Known Hosts:
Over 500 plant species including beans, peas, cucumbers, carrots, onions, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and melons. The Giant African Land Snail is considered one of the most damaging land snails in the world.

Key ID Features:
The exotic African snails are much larger than any of the native snails in the northeastern United States.
When fully mature, these snails may reach lengths of almost 8 inches (30cm) with a diameter of 4 inches (10cm). Snails are usually about 3 inches (7-8cm tall). (Figure 1)
The shell is cone-shaped and about twice as tall as it is wide. When the snail is fully grown, the shell of A.fulica consists of seven to nine whorls. (Figure 2)
The shell is usually brown in color with irregular darker streaks running across the whorls. (Figures 3 & 4)
Each snail contains male and female reproductive organs and can produce up to 1,200 eggs a year. (Figure 5)

Similar species:
Giant Ghana tiger snail (Achatina achatina), margies (Archachatina marginata), and Limicolaria auroria are other African snails capable of causing damage to many crops. They also serve as a vector of the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

For more information and photos of these species please visit the following pages:
-- Achatina achatina:
-- Archachatina marginata
-- Limicolaria aurora

Fact sheets and references:
Giant African Snails: Pest Alert from USDA, APHIS

The Giant African Snail: A Problem in Economic Malacology by Albert R. Mead

Safeguarding,Intervention, and Trade Compliance Officers Confiscate Giant African Snails in Wisconsin
A USDA, APHIS Pest Alert, Publication Number 81-35-008

Letter about Giant African Land Snails to Teachers and Educators from USDA, APHIS

Alert for Trade in Achatina spp., Giant African Snails, as Pets
North American Plant Protection Organization's Phytosanitary Alert System

Angiostrongylus Infection (parasite carried by Giant African Snails)
Center for Disease Control, Division of Parasitic Diseases

Achatina fulica from the Global Invasive Species Database

last reviewed December 30, 2014

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
The Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project is maintained by staff at the Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources. This website was made possible, in part, by a Cooperative Agreement from the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS). It may not necessarily express APHIS' views.