Florida’s Gross Giant Snail Problem Is Getting Way Out of Hand

Let’s start here: fucking Florida. What a wet, wild, and all around icky place it is, you know? Florida is basically a big swamp surrounded by sand and populated almost exclusively with retired people, drug lords, rednecks, and dangerous exotic animals that entrepreneurial Floridians have decided to import into the balmy pet stores of South Florida and sell as pets to people who are just too eccentric to get a goddamn dog and call it a day.

I like Florida just as much as the next beachgoing fried seafood basket aficionado, but, at this point in its history as an American state, Florida is little more than a noirish jungle where people commit crazy crimes and gigantic reptiles roam the land, devouring small domestic mammals. Florida has hosted a veritable parade of invasive species: the cane and bufo toads, the Burmese python, the Nile monitor lizard, and now the giant African land snail, a mollusk so big it’d be used as a softball in beer league games between dinosaurs.

Reuters reports that the giant snail is causing no end of mayhem along the mephitic peninsula, where it can be seen crawling slowly from one outpost of civilization to the next:

More than 1,000 of the mollusks are being caught each week in Miami-Dade and 117,000 in total since the first snail was spotted by a homeowner in September 2011, said Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Residents will soon likely begin encountering them more often, crunching them underfoot as the snails emerge from underground hibernation at the start of the state's rainy season in just seven weeks, Feiber said.

The snails attack "over 500 known species of plants ... pretty much anything that's in their path and green," Feiber said.

In some Caribbean countries, such as Barbados, which are overrun with the creatures, the snails' shells blow out tires on the highway and turn into hurling projectiles from lawnmower blades, while their slime and excrement coat walls and pavement.

The giant land snail, much like its reptilian counterpart in mischief, the Burmese python, reproduces pretty rapidly, laying about 1,200 eggs a year (the python can lay as many as 100 eggs in a clutch, but the average clutch has about 35 eggs). Another fun fact about the snail is that it has found Florida to be a peculiarly appealing place to cause property damage — the snails require a steady diet of calcium for their shells, and there’s no better source of calcium than all of Florida’s many stucco homes.

The moral of the story, of course, is stay away from Florida, because if you’re not implicated in a suspicious murder with Denise Richards and Neve Campbell, or strapped to a chair with cling wrap by a vigilante serial killer with a disarming smile, or scorched with a horrible sunburn, or abandoned by a drug lord in the Everglades so you can feed the body parts of a pedophile one by one to pool of alligators, then a snail will eat your house, and you can just forget about your homeowner’s insurance picking up the tab.

Florida battles slimy invasion by giant snails [Reuters]

Images via Getty.