Wednesday, 08 May 2019 14:51

Giant African Snail, A Distant Danger?

Written by Yuset Puig Pupo
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Giant African Snail, A Distant Danger? Photo: Courtesy of the Pedro Kourí Institute

Since the first sighting in the country, the media have emphasized the relevance of following the appropriate measures to eradicate the giant African snail of the Cuban fauna.


Las Tunas, Cuba.- The specialists of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment informed that there is no presence of this alien invasive species in the province so far, but they insist on the need for the population to be informed about it.

The African Giant Snail (Achatina fulica) is considered one of the 100 most harmful invasive species in the world, according to the list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This is due to its high resistance to different environmental conditions, accelerated body growth, polyphagous diet of more than 200 species of plants, including several crops (citrus, coconut, banana, rice, vegetables, ornamentals, among others), as well as decomposing organic, and its high reproductive potential, which favors its dispersion.

The first reports of the presence of this species in the country were made by the Directorate of the National Plant Health Center and the Laboratory of Malacology of the Pedro Kouri Tropical Medicine Institute (IPK) in January 2014, and published in that same year in the Molluscan Research magazine.

Dr. Antonio Alejandro VázquezPerera, head of the Laboratory of Malacology at IPK, told the Granma newspaper that the studies have allowed associating the expansion of this invasive species with Yoruba religious practices, through incidental introductions for these purposes.

So far, the presence of this mollusk has been reported in four municipalities of the country, belonging to Havana and Villa Clara.

In the territory of Las Tunas, educational talks have been given to pioneers in schools and in doctors' offices with the purpose of informing the population about the proper procedure and the correct way to eliminate it, and to check the possible places in case of a sighting.

The alien invasive species are animals, plants or other organisms, generally transported and introduced by the human being in places outside their natural distribution area, which have been established and dispersed in the new region, where they are harmful. The "invaders" produce important changes in the composition, structure or processes of natural or semi-natural ecosystems, and endanger native biological diversity.

Beyond the impact that this spices can produce on endemic flora and fauna, displacing indigenous snail populations from a territory by competing for the same habitat, the African giant can also become a plague, and act as a vector of parasites of importance for medical and veterinary authorities.


Originally from eastern Africa, this mollusk has spread to most of the world's tropical zones, including South America and the Pacific Islands. The giant African snail is a terrestrial species; the adults can present a shell of up to 10 centimeters long on average, but can reach 20 centimeters long and 10 centimeters wide. The shell is conical shaped, brown, with light and dark brown longitudinal bands.

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