Giant snails intercepted at LAX

LOS ANGELES — Invasive snails capable of eating crops - or even the paint off your house - were intercepted at LAX earlier this month.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection agriculture specialists at Los Angeles International Airport inspected the air cargo shipment, declared as 67 live snails. 

Accompanying paperwork described them as Achatina Fulica for human consumption. 
They arrived from Lagos, Nigeria in two plastic basket packages weighing slightly more than 35 pounds in total and were destined for San Dimas, California.

After submitting an urgent sample to United States Department of Agriculture  Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologists, their acting national mollusk specialist in Washington, D.C., identified them as Giant African Snails.

Native to Africa, their other commonly known names are Giant African Land Snail, West African Snail, West African Land Snail, Banana Rasp Snail, and Margie.

“This significant interception of Giant African Snails is the first time this pest has been encountered in such large quantity and as a consumption entry by CBP in Los Angeles," said Todd C. Owen, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles.

This invasive species is a very serious threat to agriculture, natural ecosystem, public health and economy, the CBP said.

The snails can consume more than 500 types of plants and, if vegetables or fruits are not available, will even eat the paint and stucco off of houses. 

The snails can be carriers of several parasites which are harmful to humans, one of which can lead to meningitis.

Being one of the world’s largest land snails, these mollusks can reach up to about 8-inches long, about 5 inches in diameter and may live up to 10 years.