UPDATE: May 9 -- Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, told The Huffington Post that the snails have potentially been misidentified, and that they are in fact Rosy Wolf snails, a species native to the region.
"We have no reason to believe there are Giant African Snails in Texas at this time," Espinosa said. "When you see something that you don’t recognize and you think may be an invasive pest, please report it. You can do this by going to the Hungry Pest website at www.hungrypest.com, or calling your State’s USDA office, State Agricultural office or extension offices."
So, good news for Texas, after all.
Bad news for the Lone Star state: The slimy, parasite-carrying giant African land snails are heading southwest.
According to NBC News, a Houston woman recently spotted the pest in her backyard garden. The USDA reports that not only do African land snails consume at least 500 different types of plants, but they also can transfer diseases to humans. A parasite known as the rat lungworm, the most common cause of meningitis, has been found in the slime of this unsightly slug.
Mark Fagan, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture, told National Geographic that "if a person comes in contact with the snail, the nematode present can then enter the person's body, eventually making its way into the brain."
More than 100,000 of the giant African land snails were collected in Florida earlier this year, and they were spotted in the Great Lakes region as well. They are considered to be one of the most “damaging” of all snails and a threat to public health.
If one African land snail pops up, you can count on seeing a few more. These suckers can hatch around 1,200 eggs annually and live for up to nine years. They don’t only gnaw on garden greenery either -- African land snails have a penchant for snacking on stucco and other home materials as well.
According to CBS Dallas, the snail has no natural predator in Texas, meaning the only way to get rid of the creature is to capture and kill it. The woman who found the snail in her backyard reported the find to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which deals with invasive species, but the snail was able to escape before it was nabbed.
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