Achatina achatina

Family

Achatinidae

Species

Achatina achatina (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common Name

Giant African snail, Giant Ghana snail, Giant tiger land snail, Escargot geant, Achatine

Description

Similar to the other species in the genus, Achatina achatina's shell can attain a length of 200 mm and a maximum diameter of 100 mm. They may possess between 7-8 whorls and the shell is often broadly ovate. The body of the animal is silver-brown in color although albino morphs may exist.

Native Range

Northern section of West Africa

Distribution

North America: Currently not present, though it is commonly intercepted at U.S. ports.

Africa: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Dahomey, Ghana, Nigeria

Ecology

Achatinids are generally nocturnal forest dwellers but have the potential to adapt to disturbed habitats. Concealed habitats are generally preferred; however, individuals may colonize more open habitats in the event of overcrowding. Achatinids often become more active during periods of high humidity (e.g., after rainfall); however, the occurrence of large numbers of individuals especially during daylight may indicate high population density.

Achatinids normally lay their calcareous eggs in the soil, but they may be deposited under leaf litter or rocks. They feed on both living and dead plant material. In addition to being agricultural pests, achatinids can be a threat to public health as they act as a reservoir host of the rat lung parasites (Angiostrongylus cantonensis and A. costaricensis), which cause eosinophilic meningoencephalitis in humans. They can also be an unsightly public nuisance during periods of population explosion.

Synonyms

References

Abbott 1989; Barker 2002; Cowie et al. 2008; Cowie et al. 2009

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