Biological Invasions

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 693–702 | Cite as

Rapid spread of an invasive snail in South America: the giant African snail, Achatina fulica, in Brasil

  • Silvana C. Thiengo
  • Fábio André Faraco
  • Norma C. Salgado
  • Robert H. Cowie
  • Monica A. Fernandez
Original Paper


Beginning around 1800, but primarily since the early and mid-twentieth century, the giant African snail, Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica Bowdich, 1822, has been introduced throughout the tropics and subtropics and has been considered the most important snail pest in these regions. In Brasil, specimens probably brought from Indonesia were introduced into the state of Paraná in the 1980s for commercial purposes (“escargot” farming) that were not successful. Achatina fulica is now widespread in at least 23 out of 26 Brasilian states and the Federal District, including the Amazonian region and natural reserves. Among the reasons for the species’ rapid invasion are its high reproductive capacity and the tendency for people to release the snails into the wild. Achatina fulica occurs in dense populations in urban areas where it is a pest in ornamental gardens, vegetable gardens, and small-scale agriculture. Also of concern is the damage caused to the environment, and potential competition with native terrestrial mollusks. It can also act as an intermediate host of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a nematode that can cause meningoencephalitis in people, and it may be a potential host of A. costaricensis, which causes abdominal angiostrongylosis, a zoonosis that occurs from the southern United States to northern Argentina. Management and control measures for A. fulica are under way in Brasil through a national plan implemented by the Brasilian government.


Achatinafulica Brasil Control Dispersal Giant African snail Mollusca 



We thank all the state and municipality agencies and personnel that provided information on the occurrence of A. fulica.


  1. Alicata JE (1991) The discovery of Angiostrongylus cantonensis as a cause of human eosinophilic meningitis. Parasitol Today 7:151–153PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anonymous (1996a) Spread of giant African snail of great concern to the Pacific. Newslett South Pacific Commission Agric Program 5(1):3Google Scholar
  3. Anonymous (1996b) Introduction of gian African snail to various Pacific islands. AgAlert (South Pacific Commission) 15:1–2Google Scholar
  4. Anonymous (1998) Giant African snail outbreak in Kosrae. SPC Agric News 7(1):12Google Scholar
  5. Anonymous (2000) Eradication of giant African snail in Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. SPC Agric News 9(November/December):10Google Scholar
  6. Carvalho OS, Teles HMS, Mota EM, Mendonça CLGF, Lenzi HL (2003) Potentiality of Achatina fulica Bowdich, 1822 (Mollusca: Gastropoda) as intermediate host of Angiostrongylus costaricensis Morera & Céspedes, 1971. Revista Soc Brasil Med Trop 36:743–745Google Scholar
  7. Civeyrel L, Simberloff D (1996) A tale of two snails: is the cure worse than the disease? Biodivers Conserv 5:1231–1252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Coote T, Loève É (2003) From 61 species to 5: endemic tree snails of the Society Islands fall prey to an ill-judged biological control programme. Oryx 37:91–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cowie RH (1992) Evolution and extinction of Partulidae, endemic Pacific island land snails. Phil Trans Roy Soc Lond Ser B 335:167–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cowie RH (2000) Non-indigenous land and freshwater molluscs in the islands of the Pacific: conservation impacts and threats. In: Sherley G (ed) Invasive species in the Pacific: a technical review and regional strategy. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Apia, pp 143–172Google Scholar
  11. Cowie RH (2001) Can snails ever be effective and safe biocontrol agents? Int J Pest Manage 47:23–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cowie RH, Robinson DG (2003) Pathways of introduction of nonindigenous land and freshwater snails and slugs. In: Ruiz G, Carlton JT (eds) Invasive species: vectors and management strategies. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 93–122Google Scholar
  13. Fischer ML, Colley E (2004) Diagnóstico da ocorrência do caramujo gigante africano Achatina fulica Bowdich, 1822 na APA de Guaraqueçaba, Paraná, Brasil. Revista Estudos Biol 26:43–50Google Scholar
  14. Fischer ML, Colley E (2005) Espécie invasora em Reservas Naturais: caracterização da população de Achatina fulica Bowdich, 1822 (Mollusca – Achatinidae) na Ilha Rasa, Guaraqueçaba, Paraná, Brasil. Biota Neotrop 5(1):1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Graeff-Teixeira C, Thiengo SC, Thomé JW, Medeiros AB, Camillo-Coura L, Agostini AA (1993) On the diversity of mollusc intermediate hosts of Angiostrongylus costaricensis Morera & Céspedes, 1971 in southern Brazil. Memór Inst Oswaldo Cruz 88:487–489Google Scholar
  16. Hadfield MG, Miller SE, Carwile AH (1993) The decimation of endemic Hawai‘ian [sic] tree snails by alien predators. Am Zool 33:610–622Google Scholar
  17. Instituto Horus (2006). Fichas técnicas de espécies exóticas invasoras. Cited 12 September 2006Google Scholar
  18. Jurberg P, Barros HM, Gomes LAL, Coelho ACS (1988) Superfamília Bulimuloidea do Brasil. Bulimulidae Thaumastus (Thaumastus) taunaisii (Férussac, 1821), com dados biológicos e aspectos comportamentais (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Pulmonata). Boletim Museu Nacional Zool 317:1–40Google Scholar
  19. Karnatak AK, Srivastava RM, Kanaujia KR (1998) Management of giant African snail Achatina fulica Bowdich, in Tarai region of Uttar Pradesh. Ind J Ecol 25:81–83Google Scholar
  20. Mead AR (1961) The giant African snail: a problem in economic malacology. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  21. Mead AR (1979) Pulmonates Volume 2B. Economic malacology with particular reference to Achatina fulica. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Paiva CL (2001) Achatina fulica (Moluscos) nova praga agrícola e ameaça à saúde pública no Brazil. Cited 19 September 2006Google Scholar
  23. Pimentel D, McNair S, Janecka J, Wightman J, Simmonds C, O’Connell C, Wong E, Russel L, Zern J, Aquino T, Tsomondo T (2001) Economic and environmental threats of alien plant, animal, and microbe invasions. Agric Ecosyst Environ 84:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Prociv P, Spratt DM, Carlisle MS (2000) Neuro-angiostrongyliasis: unresolved issues. Int J Parasitol 30:1295–1303Google Scholar
  25. Raut SK, Barker GM (2002) Achatina fulica Bowdich and other Achatinidae as pests in tropical agriculture. In: Barker GM (ed) Molluscs as crop pests. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, pp 55–114Google Scholar
  26. Robinson DG (1999) Alien invasions: the effects of the global economy on non-marine gastropod introductions into the United States. Malacologia 41:413–438Google Scholar
  27. Santos SB, Monteiro DP, Thiengo SC (2002) Achatina fulica (Mollusca, Achatinidae) na Ilha Grande, Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro: implicações para a saúde ambiental. Biociências 10:159–162Google Scholar
  28. Smith JW (2005) Recently recognized risk of importing the giant African snail, Achatina fulica Bowdich, 1822, and its relatives into the United States and the efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to mitigate the risk. Am Malacol Bull 20:133–141Google Scholar
  29. Teles HMS, Fontes LR (2002) Implicações da introdução e dispersão de Achatina fulica Bowdich, 1822 no Brasil. Boletim Inst Adolfo Lutz 12:3–5Google Scholar
  30. Thiengo SC, Fernandez MA (2004) Informativo da “Equipe técnica para avaliação e estudo sobre o impacto causado pela infestação do Achatina fulica no Estado do Rio de Janeiro”. Cited 19 Sep 2006Google Scholar
  31. Thiengo SC, Barbosa AF, Coelho PM, Fernandez MA (2006) Moluscos exóticos com importância médica no Brasil. Cited 12 Sep 2006Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvana C. Thiengo
    • 1
  • Fábio André Faraco
    • 2
  • Norma C. Salgado
    • 3
  • Robert H. Cowie
    • 4
  • Monica A. Fernandez
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de MalacologiaInstituto Oswaldo Cruz/FiocruzRio de JaneiroBrasil
  2. 2.IBAMA, Núcleo de Fauna, Superintendência no Estado do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrasil
  3. 3.Setor de Malacologia, Museu Nacional/UFRJSão CristóvãoBrasil
  4. 4.Center for Conservation Research and TrainingUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations