Houston, we have a problem.
A giant African land snail has been spotted in a Houston garden, and residents are being warned to stay away from it—and to watch out for others.
Texas station KPRC reports that the slow-moving menaces are sometimes carriers of a life-threatening meningitis. It "can cause a lot of harm to humans and sometimes even death," Autumn Smith-Herron, director of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at Sam Houston State University, told the NBC affiliate.
The monstrous mollusk is the first of its kind known to slime its way into Texas, and no one is sure how it got there.
A woman in the Briar Forest neighborhood of Houston found the snail and “notified workers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center who deal with invasive plants,” according to the station.
The disease-carrying, freakishly big hermaphroditic snails—they can grow up to almost 8 inches in length and up to 4 inches in diameter—can each lay some 100 eggs per month.
In other words, where there’s one, there are likely to be more.
These invasive creatures have already been found by the thousands in Florida. The USDA warns that, in addition to carrying diseases, they're the “most damaging snails in the world because they consume at least 500 different types of plants [and] can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco."
- Nature & Environment
- Sam Houston State University