Giant African land snails attack Florida as experts look to exterminate

Shells are so big they can puncture a car tire
This undated photo provided by Scott Burton shows a Giant African Land Snail. In an aggressive effort to keep an invasive snail species from making a permanent home in Florida, 78,000 giant African land snails have been captured in the past year, state agriculture officials said Wednesday. The infestation was discovered in September 2011. Officials hoped they could keep the snail from joining other exotic plant, fish and animal species that have found havens in the state. (AP Photo/Scott Burton)
Scott Burton/AP

One of the world’s most destructive invasive species, the giant African land snail, is munching its way through south Florida.

More than 117,000 snails have already been caught in the southeast part of the state since they were first discovered in 2011, with more expected to crawl out of hibernation as the rainy season begins, reports Reuters.

The giant snails can grow as big as a human hand. While their slimy trails can make it difficult to walk, their hard shells are more dangerous and can puncture tires and “turn into hurling projectiles from lawnmower blades.”

In addition to eating vegetation, the snails also enjoy stucco siding, which has the calcium content the snails need to build hard shells.

The report says that experts gathered in Gainesville, Florida last week to discuss a strategy to get rid of the pests.