Exotic invasive snails (Including giant African snail)
Exotic invasive snails
Exotic to Australia
Life form: Snail
Origin: Eastern Africa
Distribution: Asia, Africa, North America, Central America,
Caribbean, South America, Oceania
Features: Large, long and narrow conical shell, eggs
oval-shaped and cream-to-yellow colour, usually laid in a batch
Pathways: Imported goods, illegal importation as pets
At risk: Over 500 affected plant species
The 2019 review of the National Priority Plant Pests (NPPP), initially developed in 2016, resulted in the giant African snail and several other species being combined into one pest group. Within this pest group, giant African snail is the most significant.
Giant African snails can infect people with bacteria and parasites, if raw or poorly cooked snail is eaten. They can also transmit disease if handled with bare hands.
Giant African snails have become established in a range of overseas countries.
Its voracious appetite and broad host range make it one of the most damaging land snails. It is considered one of the world's top 100 invasive species. More than 500 plant species are affected including, legumes, ornamental plants, most vegetables, bananas, citrus, even tree bark, natural environment, social amenity and human health.
Australia remains free of this exotic pest and we need your help to keep it this way.
How to identify Giant African snail (Lissachatina fulica)
Everyone needs to keep an eye out for giant African snails.
Giant African snails can arrive in Australia either as adults or as egg masses on imports through our airports or seaports, hitching a ride on:
- soil and fertilisers
- shipping containers.
Sometimes snail trails may also be seen.
Eggs can be carried in soil associated with imported goods.
Adult giant African snails:
- are around six times larger than the common garden snail
- have a long, narrow, cone-shaped shell that is usually 50 to 100 millimeters long, but can reach up to 200 mm long
- can vary in colour, but are usually light brown with alternating brown and cream bands on its upper whorls.
- 4.5 to 5.5 mm in diameter
- cream to yellow in colour
- oval in shape
- found in batches of between 100 and 400 eggs.
Adult snails have both female and male sexual organs, and they are prolific egg layers with an average of 1200 eggs produced annually for each mated adult.
Giant African snails prefer warm tropical conditions but can survive temperatures below 2°C by becoming dormant. They are usually active at twilight and during the night, although they will become day-active during rainy and overcast periods.In large infestations, giant African snails omit an offensive smell.
If you work around imported goods you need to look for snail trails or giant African snails or their egg masses attached to:
- plant material
- shipping containers
Growers and home gardeners
Snails lay their eggs in soil.
If you use imported fertiliser, check your plants for signs of snail activity.
Take action if you find a snail that is much larger than the common garden snail.
Keep Giant African snail (Lissachatina fulica) out of Australia
All Australians and international tourists have a role to keep out exotic pests and diseases.
Giant African snails have become established in a range of overseas countries. Australia remains free of this exotic pest and we need your help to keep it this way.
Check what you can and cannot bring into Australia, whether you are a:
Giant African snails are pests, not pets
Giant African snails cannot be brought into Australia by travellers as pets or by purchasing online giant African snail kits.
Import restrictions and biosecurity measures
Some items, by law, are subject to certain import conditions to be allowed into Australia. Please check the Biosecurity Import Condition System (BICON).
Be aware of any giant African snail biosecurity measures that may be in place for incoming goods and conveyances. Industry advice notices are reviewed regularly and could change.
Secure any suspect specimens
Containment is critical. Giant African snails do not move fast, but you must contain one if you see it.
Wear gloves to collect individual snails or eggs and place them in a sealed container. Inspect the area where you found the snail and try to trace it to the source.
Report detections of exotic pests
Any detections of giant African snail must be reported to authorities.
If you receive or work around goods imported from overseas, including mail, you need to be vigilant to giant African snail and other exotic pests.
If you see an unusual pest, secure the goods to limit the movement of the pest and immediately report it to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's See.Secure.Report. Hotline 1800 798 636 or by using the online form.
Growers and home gardeners
If you see the giant African snail or anything unusual, report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881. This will put you in touch with the Department of Primary Industries or agriculture in your state or territory.
When reporting your concern, you will be given advice on handling the specimen and what to do next until an officer can investigate.