A giant, deadly snail was found in a Texas woman’s garden recently, and researchers are worried that a strain of meningitis will be spread if more of the creatures are discovered.
The snail in question was spotted by a woman in her Houston backyard; luckily, she didn’t touch it, but only snapped a picture of it to show wildlife officials. Now, researchers at Sam Houston State University are wondering how the giant African snail got there and if there are more wandering around. As of now, the original is out there somewhere, because it got away before it could be captured.
“Unfortunately, humans are picking the snails up,” said Dr. Autumn J. Smith-Herron, the director of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at Sam Houston State University. “They carry a parasitic disease that can cause a lot of harm to humans and sometimes even death.”
The species is the same one that invaded Florida recently and began destroying crops and even homes. Because they multiply faster than Gremlins–they can lay up to 1,200 eggs a year–it’s extremely difficult to get rid of them once they settle in. Reportedly, a boy brought three home from Hawaii to keep as pets in the ’60s and started an infestation of 18,000 that took nine years to battle.
Because their appearance is so out-of-the-ordinary, there’s a danger of children picking them up to play with them. Everyone is urged not to touch the snails and to tell their children to leave them alone should they spot one. If one is seen, contact the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species immediately.