Giant African Land Snails

Family Achatinidae

South Africa is home to 27 known species of snail in four genera from the family Achatinidae, also known as the Giant African Land Snails, with different species found in the various provinces. What they have in common is their herbivorous diets, extraordinary sizes and longevity of up to 5 years. The shell of the largest South African species, the Brownlipped Agate (Metachatina kraussi) which inhabits forests and savanna woodland in Kwazulu-Natal, can grow to 16cm in length.

Several kinds of Giant African Land Snails are kept as pets, however this is also the most likely source of introductions outside their natural range which has caused enormous environmental problems in many other parts of the world – in fact, the East African species Achatina fulica is considered to be one of the 100 worst invading species in the world


29 thoughts on “Giant African Land Snails

  1. Helen Olaniyi-Balogun

    Wow! Here in Nigeria, Archatina archatina, A. marginata and A. fulica are all farmed and used as food. They are very delicious and have a high protein content. Ducks also feed on the eggs and slugs. It is farmed by many and consuming from the wild is not sustainable.


  2. wetanddustyroads

    Sjoe, hulle is omtrent groot – daardie skulp in Marilize se hand is ‘n deeglike bewys. Het hulle nog nooit gesien nie, maar og, hier’s hope klein slymerige swartetjies in die tuin waar ons nou bly (en dan kom hulle snags in die huis in … mens moet omtrent ligvoets loop wanneer jy soggens opstaan 👀).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. elsabeskryf

    Ek moet jou die een vertel. In ons eerste weke in Mosambiek, speel ons kinders met die plaaslike kindertjies, gooi balle heen en weer. Tialet sien toe die grote slak, en gooi dit na ‘n Mosbiekertjie. Die kind het dit nie sien kom nie en die ding tref hom op die voorkop. O dear… wat ‘n gestoei om te verduidelik dat sy dit nie “mean” bedoel het nie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      It’s the size and the often beautiful shells that have made many of their kind attractive pets, Janet, that have now lead to them becoming invasive in parts of the world where they don’t naturally belong.


      1. sustainabilitea

        I find it interesting that many invasive species of different sorts look quite attractive Keeps people from wanting to get rid of them, I guess. Of course we have fun things like the Burmese pythons in Florida that were pets that people let go in the wild and now terrorize the area. Sigh. There are some flowers in Wyoming, called “pinks”, that are lovely but invasive.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. de Wets Wild Post author

        We humans love meddling with nature’s delicate balance. Introducing snails or snakes or flowers to an area where the factors that keep them in balance in their native haunts do not exist is sure to lead to trouble. When will we learn?


  4. Anne

    I haven’t seen these around here for many years – perhaps the drought has been too long for their survival? When we first arrived here our children were fascinated to find these enormous shells in our garden. Later on we often saw live snails wandering about. These wonderful illustrations make me wonder about them once more.

    Liked by 1 person


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