Giant African Snail

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A giant African snail is seen foraging in Lianhua Hill Park in Futian District. Photos by Isaac Cohen

Giant African snail

One of the most conspicuous species of invertebrate animals in Shenzhen and probably the one people encounter most frequently when walking in the city is the giant African snail (Lissachatina fulica), an extremely invasive species that was introduced to several countries in the world from its original East Africa initially as pets, a source of food, or by researchers that wanted to study the species, or in most instances and like many other animals, by traveling accidentally in the cargo of ships or planes.

行走于深圳的街头巷尾,你会大概率邂逅非洲大蜗牛 一——种十分常见的无脊椎动物。非洲大蜗牛原产于非洲,是臭名昭著的入侵物种,有的被作为宠物、食材、研究材料等贩卖至全球,有的则碰巧搭上某一班国际邮轮或航班,因而被散播到了全世界。

This mollusk is highly adaptable and feeds on almost any species of plant, other snails, or even worms. The snail is relatively big for a terrestrial mollusk, and its beautiful conic shell reaches a maximum length of 20 cm and a width of up to 12 cm.


A giant African snail is seen foraging in Lianhua Hill Park in Futian District. 

Due to its nature as an invasive species, the giant African snail doesn’t have natural predators in our city. However, some species have eventually learned to feed on them. Its predators in our town include giant centipedes, some insects like ants and beetles, rats, and even some birds like the greater coucal. However, its predation doesn’t come without a price, for this species is highly toxic due to the presence of deadly parasites in their digestive system, making It an unwanted meal for most of the species in Shenzhen.


A giant African snail is seen in Lianhua Hill Park in Futian District. 

There is not much we can do as citizens to control the rapid growth of this fascinating species in our city; however, it serves as an excellent opportunity for us to understand the importance of maintaining our ecosystems free from any disturbance and to grow consciousness about the harmful effects of wild species trafficking, obtaining pets from the wild, and the introduction of foreign species into local ecosystems.