Last Wednesday the African giant chuchanga was detected in three places on the island of Tenerife. The lissachatina fulica It is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as one of the 100 most dangerous invasive species. On July 12, the Network for the Detection and Intervention of Invasive Species of the Canary Islands (REDEXOS) issued an alert via Twitter in which it warned the population of the presence of this exotic species.
As they have explained from REDEXOS, this snail can transmit a form of meningitis, in addition to affecting crops and wild flora.
“Snails are carriers of parasites, since they eat and absorb everything that is on the ground. It is a cycle between animals, because it has previously gotten there from cat droppings, for example”, describes Pascual Calabuig, veterinarian of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria.
Apparently, these snails reach the Islands as a result of the trade and trafficking of exotic species. “All this type of business moves above all on the Internet. Recently we received a box with giant cockroaches. You can put those bugs in there and nobody notices, because they can last a week in the box”, explains Calabuig. Likewise, he points out that there are many people, whom he describes as “animal traffickers”, who engage in the illegal trade of species because it is what makes them money: “This occurs above all in pet stores or in businesses with animals ”.
However, it is not the first time that this species has arrived in the Canary Islands. In 2017, several specimens were intercepted in the San Mateo area, in Gran Canaria.
Giant African snails are an oviparous, herbivorous species found primarily in Kenya and Tanzania. “They eat a lot and breed a lot, although they take time to grow,” explains the vet. In addition, he reveals that the large intake of food is one of the reasons why people end up releasing these chuchangas: “People end up getting bored and, since they eat so much, they abandon them.”
There are many examples of invasive species that have reached the Archipelago, such as scorpions, snakes or iguanas, among others. “People bring them for fun, out of ignorance. The reality is that there are many collectors of these animals and they do not understand the repercussion they have in our environment”, details Calabuig.
Likewise, the expert adds that it is a danger to the flora and agriculture of the Islands, especially due to its excessive intake of plants: “Take a field of lettuce or a banana plantation and melt it down. Agriculture is the main affected”.
For his part, he adds that it is very common that, when legislation on animal matters is approved, there is a rise in the release of these animals: “People get scared and release them, because they don’t want to have problems. People have a lot of disregard for the environment and animals.”
From REDEXOS they leave a telephone number available to the public (646 601 457) in case of seeing a specimen and they recommend not touching it.