Lissachatina fulica

Family

Achatinidae

Species

Lissachatina fulica (Bowdich, 1822)

Common Name

Giant African snail, Achatine, Escargot geant, Caramujo

Description

Lissachatina fulica, also known as Achatina fulica is a large snail. The shell of this species is generally narrowly conic with 7-10 whorls and may attain a length of 200 mm (averaging 50-100 mm) and a width of 120 mm when fully mature. The color pattern of the shell will vary widely depending on the diet of the animal but will most often consist of alternating bands of brown and tan. The body of the animal is brown-gray in color and it may be able to extend up to 300 mm in length.

Native Range

East Africa

Distribution

North America: U.S.: Florida (invasive-eradication program implemented)

South and Central America: Argentina, Brazil (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais), Ecuador, Venezuela

Indian Ocean: Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles

Pacific Islands: Hawaiian Islands, Marianas, Bonin, Caroline Islands, Guam, Wake, Society Islands, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Micronesia

Caribbean: Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados

Australasia: Bougainville, New Guinea, New Ireland, New Britain, Papua, New Caledonia

Asia: India, Ceylon, Bangladesh, Malaya, Taiwan, Vietnam, Surinam, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Moluccas, Flores, Timor, Iran, Jaya, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, China

Africa: Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Annobon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Thome, Madagascar

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. 

References

Abbott 1989; Barker 2002; Cowie et al. 2008; Cowie et al. 2009; Meyer and Cowie 2010

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