The Giant African Land Snail is the largest of all land snails, reaching up to 7.9 inches (20 cm) in length and 2.8 inches (7 cm) in diameter when fully grown. They never stop growing and can grow as long as a human arm. These snails are native to East Africa but can be found in many parts of the world as they are sometimes kept as pets and can escape or be brought over on cargo ships.
The Giant African Land Snail, the largest among all land snails, can thrive in various environments, including humid forests, coasts, rivers, scrublands, wetlands, and cities. This species has no trouble surviving colder climates, as it can enter a semi-hibernation state.
The giant snail is a herbivore and can eat over 500 different types of plants, but it also consumes cement and bones to strengthen its shell. Although they can live for up to 10 years, these snails can lay up to 1200 eggs yearly, making them highly reproductive. They can also pose a risk to human health as they can carry the rat lungworm parasite, which causes meningitis.
The biggest snail ever found was during a snail-hunting adventure in Sierra Leone in 1976. It was named Gee Geronimo and listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the largest snail on the planet. This giant African land snail measured 1 foot and 3.5 inches (39.3 cm) when fully extended, with a shell length of 10.75 inches (27.3 cm). Unfortunately, its owner divorced after their home became overrun with snails, even finding some under their bed in a bucket.
Giant African Land Snails are considered invasive pests in most places, as they have a large appetite for plants and can cause damage to structures. In the United States, snails were introduced in 1936 for educational and pet purposes, but they quickly threatened agriculture and human health. They were eradicated twice in Florida, and importing or owning them is prohibited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to their risks.