ROMULUS, Mich. — Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they seized half a dozen invasive snails that were found in luggage at an airport in Michigan.
In a news release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said their agriculture specialists found six Giant African Snails at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The snails were found and seized on March 9, according to The Associated Press.
The man who had the snails in his luggage was a resident of Ghana and told investigators that the snails were going to be eaten, the AP said.
“Giant African Snails can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans and due to an appetite that includes at least 500 different types of plants, along with plaster and stucco, they can cause significant damage to structures and ecosystems. They are considered a prohibited organism in the U.S., though they are popular for consumption and even kept as pets in other countries,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said these kinds of snails create possible health risks for humans and the environment. Giant African snails are considered to be an “invasive species.”
“Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists work diligently to target, detect, and intercept potential threats before they have a chance to do harm to U.S. interests,” said Port Director Robert Larkin in the news release. “The discovery of this highly invasive pest truly benefits the health and well-being of the American people.”
Giant African Snails are reportedly prohibited in Michigan and the rest of the country, the AP reported.
Giant African Snails eat at least 500 different kinds of plants as well as plaster and stucco that are found on buildings, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
According to the AP, they are about eight inches long and produce about 1,200 eggs in a given year. In other countries, these kinds of snails are kept as pets or are often eaten.