Friday, 12 Aug 2022

Town in lockdown after killer snails the size of rats frighten residents

Killer snails the size of rats have sent a US town into lockdown as authorities struggle to eradicate the pests.

The species, which are native to Africa, have been discovered in an area in Florida, with authorities issuing alerts to residents.

The African land snail can carry the parasite lungworm, which can cause life-threatening effects and spark meningitis in humans.

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On June 23, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) announced that the species had been detected in the New Port Richey area of Pasco County.

It was confirmed that the town was quarantined the following day.

As part of the rules, locals were banned from moving plants, soil, debris, yard waste, compost and building materials located outside the designated zone.

"The giant African land snail is one of the most damaging snails in the world and consumes at least 500 different types of plants," said the FDACS.

It has been reported that the snails could have a tragic impact on local agriculture and natural areas, with concerns they could cause severe damage to tropical and subtropical environments.

The African snail species were first found in Florida in 2011 and has caused authorities to stump up $10.8 million (£8.9 million) in costs so far.

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The mammoth snails are known to reproduce quickly and could make around 1,200 eggs in a year.

Because they don't have any natural predators, they are hard to get rid of, reports Metro.

They can live up to nine years and grow to be eight inches in length, which is around the size of an adult hand.

The US Agriculture Department started the treatment process last week and used a pesticide called metaldehyde.

All property owners will be issued a notice at least 24 hours ahead of time.

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