Does Florida have yet another invasive species problem? A recent emergency quarantine raises that concern. But the invasive species in question is not a big python or iguana — it’s a destructive fist-sized snail.

According to a June 20 press release by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDAC) and its Division of Plant Industry, giant African land snails have prompted quarantine measures in parts of Broward County. The measures were taken in response to prior detections of the snails in the area.

“Under the quarantine, it is unlawful to move a giant African land snail or a regulated article, including, but not limited to, plants, plant parts, plants in soil, soil, yard waste, debris, compost or building materials, within, through or from the defined quarantine area without a compliance agreement,” states the FDAC.

In tandem with the quarantine, officials are using a metaldehyde-based treatment to kill the snails. Broward County is not the only county in Florida dealing with invasive giant African land snails; Last summer, Field & Stream reported on a detection of the pesky gastropods in Pasco County.

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According to officials, the snails can prove particularly harmful. “The giant African land snail is one of the most damaging snails in the world, consuming at least 500 different types of plants,” explains FDAC. “These snails could be devastating to Florida agriculture and natural areas as they cause extensive damage to tropical and subtropical environments. The snails also pose a serious health risk to humans by carrying parasite rat lungworm, known to cause meningitis in humans.”

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