Army of Giant Snails Slithers into
SEA LIFE Sanctuary
A slow-moving army that demolishes all vegetation in its path has invaded the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary.

The attraction has provided a home for 23 Giant African Land Snails, which a local lady - for reasons known only to herself - had kept as pets.

″She was moving house and had no room for them any more, so we agreed to take them in,″ said the Sanctuary´s displays supervisor Kieran Copeland.
Kirsty Sopp (Aquarist) with one of the African Giant land Snails
How to avoid a complete takeover was the first challenge Kieran and his colleagues faced, as the new arrivals have already been laying eggs and can multiply rapidly.

″Each snail can reach 20 cms long is capable of producing both eggs and sperm, so all of them can have offspring,″ Kieran explained, ″and they reach adult size in just four months.″

Happily the solution was close by. The eggs, it turns out, make a very tasty treat for some of the other ´waifs and strays´ that the Sanctuary has taken in over the years…especially African and South American river fish like the shovel-nosed catfish and silver dollars.

″So far it looks as if we´ll have fresh eggs to feed our river fish with on a daily basis.″

Visitors are astonished at the size of the new residents, and many seem surprised to discover they were someone´s pets.

The sanctuary wouldn´t recommend them however. They are actually classified as a pest, and also carry a parasite that can be transmitted by their slime if they are handled. That´s why aquarist Kirsty Soppy scrubbed her hands thoroughly after this picture was taken.

The species has been introduced by humans all over the world, often to the detriment of native snail species. It wiped out dozens of native tree snails in Polynesia for example.

The only thing the Hunstanton snails will be wiping out, happily, is their constant supply of fruit and vegetables.
Issued by the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Nigel Croasdale on 01485 533576
Date: 21st May 2009