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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"The Giant African Land Snail Achatina fulica is considered as one of the world’s most damaging 100 invasive alien species. Two individuals of the Giant African Snail were brought to India from Mauritius by the pioneer of malacology in India, William Benson, in 1847. Benson left India soon after his return from Mauritius and handed the snails to a friend and neighbour in Chowringee, Kolkata, and it was the neighbour who subsequently released them in his garden. From these two individual snails the species spread throughout much of South Asia."
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Summary

"Achatina fulica is one of the 100 top invasive species in the world. Originally a native of East Africa, it has now invaded most of the Indo-Pacific region. A serious pest in agro-horticultural systems, it is used as food for humans, poultry and fishes."
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Distribution

Distributions – “East Africa, Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, India, Ceylon, Malaya, Siam, S. China, S. Japan, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, seeral Lesser Sunda Is., New Guinea, Philippines, Guam, Saipan, Tinian Is., New Britain, new Ireland, Hawaiian Is., Palau Is., Okinawa, S. California” (Benthem-Jutting, 1952)

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Global Range: Introduced into Hawaii (Cowie, 1997; 1998) and Samoa (Cowie and Cook, 1999).

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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"Achatina fulica is a native of Eastern Africa mainly from Kenya and Tanzania. It is introduced purposefully and accidentally to many parts of the globe for medicinal purposes, food and for research purposes (Raut and Barker 2002). It is now present in most of the Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands."
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Endemic Distribution

Non-endemic
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Physical Description

Morphology

"Conical shell, twice as high as it is broad. Dextral coiling more commonly seen than sinistral coiling. Shell colouration highly variable and dependent on diet. Typically, brown bands running across the spirals."
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Benthem-Jutting (1952) descriptions on Achatina fulica – “Shells large, solid, pyramidal with produced spire and rounded base. Ground colour light yellow or fawn, ornated with irregular brown or mauve vertical bans, streaks or blothes under a greenish-yellow epidermis. With soft lustre, little or not transparent. Coarsely striated in vertical direction. Towards the suture and towards the aperture the striae become almost rib-like. In many specimens there is a finer spiral sculpture also, especially on the whorls of the spire, rendering this part of the shell a decussated appearance. The whole is covered by a yellowish or brownish periostracum which peels off easily. Whorls 7 to 9, rapidly increasing in size, moderately convex. The last one large and rather inflated. Top whorls smooth. Umbilicus close, even in young individuals. Suture irregularly crenulated, occasionally lightly margined. Aperture somewhat oblique, broad-oval, pointed above and below. Height of aperture shorter than the spire. Peristome not continuous, the two ends connected by a thin, white callus against the parietal wall. Outer margin sharp, not thickened or reflected. Interior white or bluish-white. In the interior of young shells the flames of the outside colour pattern are shining through. Columellar margin thickened, slightly tortuous longitudinally and truncated at the lower end.”

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Size

Height: around 7 centimetres. Length: can reach 20 centimetres or more.
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Achatina fulica – “Dimensions: height 100 to 130 mm, in exceptional cases till 170 mm, width 45 to 60 mm, height of aperture 50 to 55 mm.” (Benthem-Jutting, 1952)

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Diagnostic Description

SubSpecies Varieties Races

"Four sub-species identified - Achatina fulica hamillei Petit, 1859; Achatina fulica rodatzi Dunker, 1852; Achatina fulica sinistrosa Grateloup, 1840 and Achatina fulica umbilicata Nevill, 1879."
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

"Found in agricultural areas, coastland, natural forest, planted forests, riparian zones, scrub/shrublands, urban areas, wetlands, gardens and homesteads."
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Achatina fulica has a predilection for plantations, vegetable gardens, refuse heaps etc. where it feeds on fresh and decaying plants, not even respecting such well-armed plants as Opuntia and Euphorbia. It is sometimes found eating latex in rubber plantations. Generally they live on the ground, but occasionally they climb tree trunks. In the dry season they hide away in the soil, retract in their shells and close it with a thin epiphragm. Achatina fulica inhabits the lower altitudes: lowland plains and hilly country up to about 1000 m altitude, mostly in or near human settlements. It has not been found in truly “wild” conditions, and not in tropical rain forest or in the higher mountains.” (Benthem-Jutting, 1952)

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Dispersal

“During the Japanese occupation of the Malay Archipelago (1942-1945) Achatina fulica was purposely introduced for food in several internment camps. The once so highly depised snail now became an appreciated source of animal protein for the straving prisoners. In this way it was transported from island to island and has rapidly conquered new areas acclimatizing perfectly in its new surroundings.” (Benthem-Jutting, 1952)

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Trophic Strategy

"Achatina fulica is a macrophytophagous snail and feeds on wide variety of plants, fruit and vegetables. Because of its prolific feeding habitats, it can cause significant damage to agricultural and horticultural crops. According to Raut and Barker (2002) Achatina fulica feeds on more than 500 plants of agricultural and horticultural importance, including cuttings and seedlings of plants."
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Associations

"Parasites of Achatina fulica include: 1. Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. 2. Angiostrongylus cantonensis - causes eosinophilic meningoencephalitis. 3. Angiostrongylus costaricensis - causes abdominal angiostrongyliasis. 4. Schistosoma mansoni- causes schistosomiasis, detected in faeces. 5. Trichuris spp. - detected in faeces. 6. Hymenolepis spp. - detected in faeces. 7. Strongyloides spp. - detected in faeces and in mucous secretion."
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Predators of Achatina fulica – “Malaysian wood rat, Rattus tiomanicus (Miller); Pacific rat, Rattus exulans (Peale); Rice field rat, Rattus argentiventer (Robinson & Kloss); Pig, Sus scrofa (Linnaeus).” (Limm, 1966)

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Population Biology

Very common species during rainy season in India. The population density can vary from 2 to 70 individuals per 10 metre square.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

"Buried underground throughout the day, these snails emerge from their damp hideouts at dusk and feed throughout the night. Most active during the rainy season."
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Life Expectancy

Captivity: 5-6 years. Wild: upto ten years.
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Reproduction

"Achatina fulica is a hermaphrodite - each individual has both testes and ovaries and is capable of producing both sperms and ova. Self-fertilisation rare, occuring only in small populations. Snails of similar size show bilateral mating, while those of unequal size show unilateral mating with the larger one acting as the female. Mating behaviour includes bringing heads and front parts against each other. Courtship can last upto 30 minutes, while actual transfer of gametes can last for two hours. Transferred sperm can be stored within the body for up to two years. Thus these snails can lay eggs over a period of several months after only one mating. A snail may lay 5-6 clutches per year, with 200 eggs per clutch. Eggs are laid in damp places and show a hatching viability of about 90%. Eggs are yellow or cream in colour and 4.5 - 5.5 mm in diameter. Thus, it breeds rapidly, out-competes native species of snails and reaches large numbers in short periods due to their prolific breeding habits."
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Growth

"Adult size is reached in about six months, after which growth slows but does not ever cease."
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Achatina fulica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Not Evaluated.
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Legislation

Not protected. An invasive pest species.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

"Achatina fulica is used as food for humans, poultry and fishes; and for medicinal and research purposes."
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In West Africa, Giant African Snails are one of the main sources of protein (Hardouin, 1995). Additionally, they may also suppress tumor growth in cancer. Angiogenesis is the formation of new capillaries that contributes to the growth and metastasis of cancer tumors. In a study of mice, it was found that Archaran sulfate, a substance found in the giant African snails could be used to inhibit angiogenesis and also act as an antitumor agent (Lee et al, 2003).

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Risks

Risk Statement

"Achatina fulica is a serious pest to agri-horticulural systems throughout the Indo-Pacific Islands (Raut 1982). Plant diseases such as black pod disease caused by Phytophthora palmivora are also spread through the faeces of Achatina fulica (Raut and Barker 2002; CAB 2003). In India, A. fulica causes more damage to vegetables belonging to the families Cruciferae, Cucurbitaceae and Leguminoseae. Achatina fulica can also act as a vector of human diseases such as angiostrongylosis and eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, by acting as the hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis (CAB 2003; Santos Carvalho et al. 2003). This parasite enters humans through eating raw or under-cooked snails."
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Because the snails are herbivores, they can consume a large amount of crops and plants. This leaves farmers with major crop and income losses every year; eliminating the snail pests is also not a viable option as it is extremely costly (Stokes, 2006).

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Wikipedia

Achatina fulica

Achatina fulica is a species of land snail in the family Achatinidae, known commonly as the Giant African snail or giant African land snail.[1] Outside of its native range this snail thrives in many types of habitat in areas with mild climates. It feeds voraciously and is a vector for plant pathogens, causing severe damage to agricultural crops and native plants. It competes with native snail taxa, is a nuisance pest of urban areas, and spreads human disease.[1] This snail is listed as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world.[2]

Subspecies[edit]

Subspecies within this species:

  • Achatina fulica hamillei Petit, 1859[3]
  • Achatina fulica rodatzi Dunker, 1852
  • Achatina fulica sinistrosa Grateloup, 1840
  • Achatina fulica umbilicata Nevill, 1879

Distribution[edit]

The species is native to East Africa,[3] but it has been widely introduced to other parts of the world through the pet trade, as a food resource, and by accidental introduction.

This species has been found in China since 1931 (map of distribution in 2007), and its initial point of distribution in China was Xiamen.[4] The snail has also been established in the Pratas Islands, of Taiwan,[5] throughout India, the Pacific, Indian Ocean islands, and the West Indies. In the United States, it has become established in Hawaii[6] and eradication is underway in Florida.[7]

The species has recently been observed in Bhutan (Gyelposhing, Mongar), where it is an invasive species. It has begun to attack agricultural fields and flower gardens. It is believed there that dogs have died as a result of consuming the snail.

Description[edit]

The adult snail is around 7 centimetres (2.8 in) in height and 20 centimetres (7.9 in) or more in length.

The shell has a conical shape, being about twice as high as it is broad. Either clockwise (dextral) or counter-clockwise (sinistral) directions can be observed in the coiling of the shell, although the right-handed (dextral) cone is the more common. Shell colouration is highly variable, and dependent on diet. Typically, brown is the predominant colour and the shell is banded.[8] The shell is particularly tough and has the highest heavy metal content of any snail species.[9]

Apertural view of the shell
Lateral view of the shell
Abapertural view of the shell

Ecology[edit]

Habitat[edit]

The giant African snail is native to East Africa, and can be traced back to Kenya and Tanzania. It is a highly invasive species, and colonies can be formed from a single gravid individual. In many places, release into the wild is illegal. Nonetheless, the species has established itself in some temperate climates and its habitat now includes most regions of the humid tropics, including many Pacific islands, southern and eastern Asia, and the Caribbean. The giant snail can now be found in agricultural areas, coastland, natural forest, planted forests, riparian zones, scrub and shrublands, urban areas, and wetlands.

Feeding[edit]

The giant African snail is a macrophytophagous herbivore; it eats a wide range of plant material, fruit, and vegetables. It will sometimes eat sand, very small stones, bones from carcasses and even concrete as calcium sources for its shell. In rare instances the snails will consume each other.

In captivity, this species can be fed on grain products such as bread, digestive biscuits, and chicken feed. It can be supplemented with calcium for shell development. It requires about 18.28% of crude protein in its diet for optimal growth.[10]

Life cycle[edit]

This species is a simultaneous hermaphrodite; each individual has both testes and ovaries and is capable of producing both sperm and ova. Instances of self-fertilization are rare, occurring only in small populations. Although both snails in a mating pair can simultaneously transfer gametes to each other (bilateral mating), this is dependent on the size difference between the partners. Snails of similar size will reproduce in this way. Two snails of differing sizes will mate unilaterally (one way), with the larger individual acting as a female. This is due to the comparative resource investment associated with the different genders.[citation needed]

Like other land snails, these have intriguing mating behaviour, including petting their heads and front parts against each other. Courtship can last up to half an hour, and the actual transfer of gametes can last for two hours. Transferred sperm can be stored within the body for up to two years. The number of eggs per clutch averages around 200. A snail may lay five to six clutches per year with a hatching viability of about 90%.

Adult size is reached in about six months, after which growth slows, but does not cease until death. Life expectancy is commonly five or six years in captivity, but the snails can live for up to ten years. They are active at night and spend the day buried underground.

Fresh eggs
Hatching from eggs
Juvenile snail

The giant African snail is capable of aestivating for up to three years in times of extreme drought, sealing itself into its shell by secretion of a calcerous compound that dries on contact with the air.

Parasites[edit]

Parasites of Achatina fulica include:

As an invasive species[edit]

In many places this snail is a pest of agriculture and households with the ability to transmit both human and plant pathogens. Suggested preventive measures include strict quarantine to prevent introduction and further spread. This snail has been given top national quarantine significance in the United States.[6] In the past, quarantine officials have been able to successfully intercept and eradicate incipient invasions on the mainland USA.[13]

In the wild, this species often harbors the parasitic nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which can cause a very serious meningitis in humans. Human cases of this meningitis usually result from a person having eaten the raw or undercooked snail, but even handling live wild snails of this species can infect a person with the nematode and thus cause a life-threatening infection.[14]

In some regions, an effort has been made to promote use of the giant African snail as a food resource in order to reduce its populations. However, promoting a pest in this way is a controversial measure, because it may encourage the further deliberate spread of the snails.

One particularly catastrophic attempt to biologically control this species occurred on South Pacific Islands. Colonies of A. fulica were introduced as a food reserve for the American military during World War II and they escaped. A carnivorous species (Florida rosy wolfsnail, Euglandina rosea) was later introduced by the United States government, in an attempt to control A. fulica but the rosy wolf snail instead heavily preyed upon the native Partula, causing the extinction of most Partula species within a decade.

Human use[edit]

Achatina fulica are used by some practitioners of Candomblé for religious purposes in Brazil as an offering to the deity Oxalá. The snails substitute for a closely related species, the African giant snail (Archachatina marginata) normally offered in Nigeria. The two species share a common name (Ìgbín, also known as ibi or boi-de-oxalá in Brazil), and are similar enough in appearance to satisfy religious authorities.[15] They are also edible if cooked properly.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

This article incorporates CC-BY-2.0 text from the reference.[15]

  1. ^ a b Achatina fulica. Global Invasive Species Database. ISSG. IUCN.
  2. ^ View 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species. Global Invasive Species Database. ISSG. IUCN.
  3. ^ a b Rowson, B.; Warren, B.; Ngereza, C. (2010). "Terrestrial molluscs of Pemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania, and its status as an "oceanic" island". ZooKeys 70. doi:10.3897/zookeys.70.762.  edit
  4. ^ Lv, S.; Zhang, Y.; Liu, H. X.; Hu, L.; Yang, K.; Steinmann, P.; Chen, Z.; Wang, L. Y.; Utzinger, J. R.; Zhou, X. N. (2009). Knight, Matty, ed. "Invasive Snails and an Emerging Infectious Disease: Results from the First National Survey on Angiostrongylus cantonensis in China". PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 3 (2): e368. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000368. PMC 2631131. PMID 19190771.  edit figure 5.
  5. ^ Wu S.-P., Hwang C.-C., Huang H.-M., Chang H.-W., Lin Y.-S. & Lee P.-F. (2007). "Land Molluscan Fauna of the Dongsha Island with Twenty New Recorded Species". Taiwania 52(2): 145-151. PDF.
  6. ^ a b Cowie R. H., Dillon R. T., Robinson D. G. & Smith J. W. (2009). "Alien non-marine snails and slugs of priority quarantine importance in the United States: A preliminary risk assessment". American Malacological Bulletin 27: 113-132. PDF
  7. ^ Campo-Flores, Arian. October 4th, 2011. "Giant Alien Snails Attack Miami, Though They're Not in Much of a Rush: Eradication Teams Go House to House, Nabbing 10,000 Invaders; 'Crunch Under Our Feet'." Wall Street Journal. Link
  8. ^ Skelley, PE; Dixon, WN; and Hodges, G. 2011. Giant African land snail and giant South American snails: field recognition. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Gainesville, Florida. PDF
  9. ^ Jatto, Ejeomo.Osazuwa (2013). "Kinetic Studies Of Wastewater Treatment From Rubber Factory Using Snail Shell". Journal Artical. New York Science Journal. pp. 25–33. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  10. ^ (Portuguese) Soares C. M., Hayashi C., Gonçalves G. S., Nagae M. Y. & Boscolo W. R. (1999). "Exigência de proteína para o caracol gigante (Achatina fulica) em fase de crescimento. Protein requirements for giant snail (Achatina fulica) during the growth phase". Acta Scientiarum. Animal Sciences 21(3): 683-686. abstract, PDF.
  11. ^ a b c Ohlweiler, F. P.; Guimarães, M. C. D. A.; Takahashi, F. Y.; Eduardo, J. M. (2010). "Current distribution of Achatina fulica, in the State of São Paulo including records of Aelurostrongylus abstrusus (Nematoda) larvae infestation". Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo 52 (4): 211. doi:10.1590/S0036-46652010000400009.  edit PDF.
  12. ^ a b c d (Spanish) Libora M., Morales G., Carmen S., Isbelia S. & Luz A. P. (2010). "Primer hallazgo en Venezuela de huevos de Schistosoma mansoni y de otros helmintos de interés en salud pública, presentes en heces y secreción mucosa del molusco terrestre Achatina fulica (Bowdich, 1822). [First finding in Venezuela of Schistosoma mansoni eggs and other helminths of interest in public health found in faeces and mucous secretion of the mollusc Achatina fulica (Bowdich, 1822)]. Zootecnia Tropical 28: 383-394. PDF.
  13. ^ "PBS "Alien Invasion". Accessed on 6 January 2008". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "African snail: Deadly invasion in South America". BBC News. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Léo Neto, N. A.; Brooks, S. E.; Alves, R. M. R. (2009). "From Eshu to Obatala: Animals used in sacrificial rituals at Candomblé "terreiros" in Brazil". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 5: 23. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-5-23. PMC 2739163. PMID 19709402.  edit
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