The giant African land snail has a natural habitat located in Africa, where there is a tropical climate with warm, year round temperatures, and high humidity. The snail has adapted and has been able to thrive in temperate climates as well. This species prefers areas of low to mid-elevation, with temperature preference between nine degrees Celsius and twenty-nine degrees Celsius. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a; "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012; Cowie, 2010; Stokes, 2006; Vogler, et al., 2013)can survive less ideal conditions, such as two degrees Celsius by hibernation and thirty degrees Celsius by aestivation. The snail can be found in agricultural areas, coastal areas, wetlands, disturbed areas, forests, urban areas, and riparian zones. The snails need temperatures above freezing and preferably high humidity in order to thrive the best. They have adapted to dry and cooler areas, however, by being able to hibernate in soft soil during the unfavorable weather conditions.
The giant African snail can be distinguished from other snails due to their large size; when mature, the snail can reach up to eight inches (30 centimeters) in length with a diameter of four inches (10 centimeters). The snail can reach up to thirty-two grams in weight. The snail has the physical features that are associated with the phylum Mollusca, including a shell. The shell of is cone-shaped and has a height that is twice that of the width. When the snail is mature and full-grown, the shell will normally consist of seven to nine whorls. The color of the snail differs depending on the environment, as some are primarily brown or dark colored, with dark stripes and streaks that run across the whorls, while others are reddish-brown with pale yellow vertical markings. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a; "Achatina fulica", 2014b; "Giant African Land Snail", 2008; "Giant African snail", 2013; "Pest Alert", 2011; "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012; Cowie, 2010; Stokes, 2006)
- Average mass
- 32 g
- 1.13 oz
- Range length
- 30 (high) cm
- 11.81 (high) in
Stylommatophiora, does not mate randomly; the snails mate with respect to age and size of other snails. Immature, small snails that are still growing produce only spermatozoa, while larger, mature adults produce both spermatozoa and ova. There is an age dependent mate choice when it comes to young snails because they need and prefer older adults to mate with. Young giant African snails copulate at all hours of the night, while older adults mate in the middle of the night. The snails choose their mates with respect to size and age, but the reproductive stage-dependent mate is a more attractive mate than the body size-dependent mate choice. Mating occurs when one snail encounters a prospective partner that the individual snail deems acceptable to mate with. When two individual snails mate, there is a possibility that gametes will be transferred to each one by the other simultaneously. However, this is only the case if the snails are around the same size. If there is a size difference, the larger snail will act as the female and the gametes will only be transferred from the smaller snail to the larger snail, mating unilaterally. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a; "Giant African Land Snail", 2008; "Giant African snail", 2013; "Lissachatina fulica", 2014; "Pest Alert", 2011; Cowie, 2010; Egonmwan, 2007; Tomiyama, 1996)is hermaphroditic; each individual snail has both male and female reproductive parts. There are no distinguishing parts separating sexes because each snail contains both sex reproductive systems. They do not self-fertilize, so the snails need to mate with another snail of their species. As a
- Key Reproductive Features
- year-round breeding
- sequential hermaphrodite
- induced ovulation
- Breeding interval
- The giant African snail breeds every two to three months.
- Breeding season
- Breeding can take place any time of the year.
- Range number of offspring
- 100 to 500
- Average number of offspring
- Range gestation period
- 11 to 15 days
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 6 months
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 6 months
- Parental Investment
- Range lifespan
- 10 (high) years
- Range lifespan
- Typical lifespan
- 3 to 5 years
- Typical lifespan
- Typical lifespan
- 3 to 5 years
- Typical lifespan
Communication and Perception
Giant African snails are herbivores. Musa (bananas), Beta vulgaris (beets), and Tagetes patula (marigolds). More mature and developed African snails prefer to feed on living plants and vegetation. The mature snails broaden their spectrum of preferred plants to consume including: Solanum melongena (eggplant), Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin), and many others. This species has also been found to feed on other snails, lichens, fungi, and animal matter. The radula, a distinguishing characteristic of Gastropods, is essential in the ability to eat a variety of foods. The radula is a toothed ribbon used to scrape or cut food, and allows for the ability to pick up food and begin the digestive process with ease. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a; "Giant African Land Snail", 2008; "Lissachatina fulica", 2014; "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012; Cowie, 2010)feeds primarily on vascular plant matter, having no preference whether it is living or dead matter. This snail species has a strong sense of smell that assists in attracting and leading the individuals to garden crops and other plant resources. These snails have different preferences with their ages; young members of this species feed on decaying matter and unicellular algae. They also prefer soft textured
- Animal Foods
- Plant Foods
- wood, bark, or stems
- seeds, grains, and nuts
- Other Foods
- Known Predators
- Christmas Island red crab, Gecarcoidea natalis
- cannibal snail, Euglandina rosea
- land snail, Gonaxis quadrilateralis
- fire ants, Solenopsis geminata
- hermit crabs, Paguroidea
- Malayan field rat, Rattus tiomanicus
- Polynesian rat, Rattus exulans
- Rice-field rat, Rattus argentiventer
- wild boar, Sus scrofa
- New Guinea flatworm, Platydemus manokwari
Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the rat lungworm. The parasitic organisms live and thrive on this host and can be transported to other hosts, such as humans, through the consumption of the snails. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a; "Achatina fulica", 2014b; Carvalho, et al., 2003; Cowie, 2010; Stokes, 2006)has several different ecosystem roles. This species decomposes and consumes dead vegetation. The benefit of this ecosystem role is that the snail assists in recycling nutrients and the building blocks essential to life. Giant African snails are also part of the food chain, as they are a source of food to many predators. This species is also a host to parasitic organisms, such as
- Ecosystem Impact
- rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis
- bacterium, Aeromonas hydrophila
- fungi, Phytophthora palmivora
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Giant African snails are an invasive species across that world. It has become illegal to have possession of these snails in countries where it has been introduced. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a; "Achatina fulica", 2014b; "Giant African Land Snail", 2008; "Lissachatina fulica", 2014; "Species Profiles: Giant African Snail", 2014; Carvalho, et al., 2003; Cowie, 2010; Stokes, 2006)has a large and broad diet preference; the dietary habits of this species cause a high loss in crops for farmers. They are considered an agricultural pest, costing farmers not only their crops but also economic costs. This species is also a carrier of many parasitic organisms, including organisms that harm people and plants. Serious illness and diseases can erupt in humans if they consume giant African snails. also destroys and pollutes its surroundings, including soil. When an individual of this species dies, the calcium carbonate found in the shells neutralizes the soil; the neutralization of the soil and the altering of its properties affect the types of plants that can grow in the soil. can cost cities, states, or countries millions of dollars in not only agricultural costs, but also in attempts to control this invasive species.
- Negative Impacts
- injures humans
- crop pest
is not currently vulnerable, threatened, nor endangered.
Taylor Hoffman (author), Grand View University, Nicole Pirie (author), Grand View University, Felicitas Avendano (editor), Grand View University, Dan Chibnall (editor), Grand View University, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals
- causes disease in humans
an animal which directly causes disease in humans. For example, diseases caused by infection of filarial nematodes (elephantiasis and river blindness).
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
- induced ovulation
ovulation is stimulated by the act of copulation (does not occur spontaneously)
- internal fertilization
fertilization takes place within the female's body
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
- pet trade
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
condition of hermaphroditic animals (and plants) in which the male organs and their products appear before the female organs and their products
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.
uses sight to communicate
- year-round breeding
breeding takes place throughout the year
2008. "Giant African Land Snail" (On-line). Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project. Accessed February 28, 2014 at http://massnrc.org/pests/pestFAQsheets/giantafricanlandsnail.html.
2013. "Giant African snail" (On-line). ARKive. Accessed February 28, 2014 at http://www.arkive.org/giant-african-snail/achatina-fulica/.
2014. "Lissachatina fulica" (On-line). Invasive Species Compendium. Accessed March 07, 2014 at http://www.cabi.org/isc/?compid=5&dsid=2640&loadmodule=datasheet&page=481&site=144.
2011. "Pest Alert" (On-line pdf). United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed March 07, 2014 at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/pa_phgas.pdf.
2012. "Snails (Giant East African Snail)" (On-line). Infonet-Biovision. Accessed March 08, 2014 at http://www.infonet-biovision.org/default/ct/110/pests.
2014. "Species Profiles: Giant African Snail" (On-line). United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed February 26, 2014 at http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/africansnail.shtml.
Carvalho, O., H. Teles, E. Mota, C. Lafeta, G. Mendonca, H. Lenzi. 2003. Potentiality of Mollusca: Gastropoda) as intermediate host of the Angiostrongylus costaricensis Morera & Céspedes 1971. Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical, 36/6: 743-745. Accessed March 06, 2014 at http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rsbmt/v36n6/a17v36n6.pdf.Bowdich, 1822 (
Egonmwan, R. 2007. "Recent Advances in the Biology of Giant African Land Snails" (On-line pdf). Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. Accessed March 05, 2014 at http://unaab.edu.ng/netgals/downloads/Egonmwan.pdf.
Stokes, H. 2006. "Introduced Species Summary Project" (On-line). Columbia University. Accessed March 04, 2014 at http://www.columbia.edu/itc/cerc/danoff-burg/invasion_bio/inv_spp_summ/Achatina_fulica.htm#Introduction_Facts.
Tomiyama, K. 1996. MATE-CHOICE CRITERIA IN A PROTANDROUS SIMULTANEOUSLY HERMAPHRODITIC LAND SNAIL STYLOMMATOPHORA: ACHATINIDAE). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 62: 101-111. Accessed March 07, 2014 at http://mollus.oxfordjournals.org/content/62/1/101.full.pdf+html.(FÉRUSSAC) (
Vogler, R., A. Beltramino, M. Sede, D. Gregoric, V. Nunez, A. Rumi. 2013. The giant African snail, Gastropoda: Achatinidae): Using bioclimaticmodels to identify South American areas susceptible to invasion. American Malacological Bulletin, 31/1: 39-50. Accessed March 04, 2014 at http://www.academia.edu/2602901/The_Giant_African_Snail_Achatina_fulica_Gastropoda_Achatinidae_Using_Bioclimatic_Models_to_Identify_South_American_Areas_Susceptible_to_Invasion.(