Beautiful spring weather, it's not hurricane season yet, nothing to worry about outside except the occasional mosquito, giant deadly snail and annoying neighbor kid.
What-whut? Giant deadly snail?
Yep -- if various sightings around town are to be believed, the Giant African Land Snail (Lissachatina fulica) has made its way to Texas. (Fox News, go ahead and insert your joke about it being an undocumented alien right about here.)
No one knows how it got here. The snail can reach up to eight inches in length and nearly five inches in diameter -- in other words, a size no one in their right mind would ever touch. So when your kid runs into the kitchen holding it in his hands, you've got trouble.
From the world-renowned expert on Giant African Snails, Mr, Wiki:
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 cause a life-threatening infection.
So don't touch those suckers.
The snails also wreak havoc -- havoc, we say! -- on plants and wildlife.
"Damages native plants and crops," says TexasInvasives.org. "Scientists consider the giant African snail, Achatina fulica, to be one of the most damaging snails in the world. It is known to eat at least 500 different types of plants."
That group says the snail might have been imported as early as 1966 "as pets and for educational purposes," or it may have snuck aboard a cargo ship.
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One ray of hope: A federal investigator tells KPRC that "a common Texas snail can be mistaken for the giant African snail."
That's right! Our common snails are as big as Africa's giant snails!! Damn straight.
If you think you've seen one of the African snails, call Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at 936-294-3788 or contact TexasInvasives.org through their Web site.