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CBP Seizes Live Giant African Snails

Release Date: 
February 9, 2015

HOUSTON -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized six live giant West African snails from a passenger’s baggage on Feb. 2.

Giant West African Snails were seized at a Houston airport after a traveler declared she was bringing animals to the U.S.

Giant West African Snails were seized at a Houston airport after a traveler declared she was bringing animals to the U.S.

The passenger, who arrived from Nigeria, declared animals during CBP processing. This  warranted a further inspection in agriculture secondary.  During the inspection, six live giant West African snails, Archachatina (Calachatina) marginata (Swainson) (Achatinidae), were seized.  As a result, the inspecting agriculture specialist explained that snails were prohibited.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the giant African snail is fast becoming an invasive species, as they have voracious appetites and have the ability reproduce very quickly.  Additionally, importations of giant African snails are prohibited entry into the U.S.  Whenever discoveries are detected, they are safeguarded immediately.  

“CBP agriculture specialists are the nation’s front line in safeguarding our agriculture industry by preventing the introduction of invasive harmful pests,” said CBP Port Director Charles Perez. “But U.S. citizens returning from international travel and visitors to the U.S. have a shared responsibility in safeguarding our food supply by presenting a truthful declaration during CBP processing.

“There is no penalty when international travelers make a truthful declaration,” Perez continued.  “If a traveler has any doubt; any item acquired outside of the U.S. should be declared and either an officer or agriculture specialist will resolve it.  The time invested in making a truthful declaration will not only save the traveler from a fine or penalty, it can, like in this case, help protect our agriculture industry.”

The six snails were sent to USDA for identification and subsequent destruction.

Giant African snails are carriers of the rat parasite, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, and can be contracted by consuming improperly cooked snail meat, or by handling live snails. More information about giant African snails and the risks they pose is available.

According to USDA, a giant African snail should not be released into the environment as they will cause extensive damage to plants and will rapidly reproduce.  Instead, those in Texas who have information regarding giant African snails or other invasive pests, can contact the USDA State Plant Health Director at 512-916-5241, to arrange for the pest to be collected.

In 2014, on a typical day, CBP agriculture specialists around the nation intercepted 425 pests and 4,447 plant pests, and quarantine material interceptions to include: fruit and vegetables, plant materials, meat products, meat by-products, and soil. Find more information about how CBP is Protecting Agriculture.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017