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Achatina achatina

Achatina achatina, commonly known as the Giant Ghana African snail, also known as the Giant African snail, giant tiger land snail, and gigantocochlea, is a species of very large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae. The name "Achatina" is from "achates", Greek for agate.[1] It shares the common name "giant African snail" with other species of snails such as Achatina fulica and Archachatina marginata.

Achatina achatina
Giant tiger land snail (Achatina achatina).jpg
Kakum National Park, Ghana
Scientific classification
A. achatina
Binomial name
Achatina achatina
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Bulla achatina Linnaeus, 1758 (original combination)


The species is believed to be native to West Africa, within 160 kilometres (99 mi) to 300 kilometres (190 mi) of the coasts of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria.

Achatina achatina is routinely confiscated by quarantine authorities at United States airports, especially Baltimore, Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and San Francisco.[2] These very large snails are kept as pets in the Western world, where owners prize their large size, distinctive markings, and rarity.[3]

It is considered a potentially serious pest, an invasive species that could adversely affect agriculture, natural ecosystems, human health or commerce. A related species of snail (Achatina fulica) has become established in some Caribbean islands, such as Barbados.[4] It has been suggested that these species be given top national quarantine significance in the United States.[5] Snails of the genus Achatina have already established themselves in the wild in Florida, where they are considered a pest.[4]


A snail crawling across grass.

The shells of these snails often grow to a length of 18 centimetres (7.1 in) with a diameter of 9 centimetres (3.5 in). Certain examples have been surveyed in the wild at 30×15 cm, making them the largest extant land snail species known.[6][7]


Snails collected in Ghana for food

Like almost all pulmonate gastropods, these snails are hermaphrodites, having male and female sex organs. Each snail lays up to 1200 eggs per year. Achatina achatina is an important source of animal protein for West African forest-dwelling ethnic groups, and there is potential for commercial farming.[8]

This species' substantial size and potential for rapid population growth can make the snail a serious pest when introduced to non-native ecosystems. The population size of this species can be curtailed through disease caused by the bacterium Aeromonas liquefaciens[9] but it often has no other natural enemies.[10]


  1. ^ "". Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Achatina achatina" (PDF). USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Archived from the original (pdf) on 8 July 2010.
  3. ^ "Achatina achatina". 2005. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  4. ^ a b Barbara Liston (14 April 2013). "Florida battles slimy invasion by giant snails". Reuters. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  5. ^ Cowie, R. H.; Dillon, R. T.; Robinson, D. G.; Smith, J. W. (2009). "Alien non-marine snails and slugs of priority quarantine importance in the United States: A preliminary risk assessment" (PDF). American Malacological Bulletin. 27 (1–2): 113–132. doi:10.4003/006.027.0210. Archived from the original (pdf) on 16 June 2016.
  6. ^ Woodward, Samuel Peckworth (1868). Manual of the Mollusca: A Treatise on Recent and Fossil Shells. Virtue& Company. p. 97. Archived from the original on 21 May 2016.
  7. ^ Institute for Scientific Co-operation (1988). Animal Research and Development. Institute for Scientific Co-operation. p. 68. ISSN 0340-3165. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016.
  8. ^ Hodasi, J. K. M. (1979). "LIFE-HISTORY STUDIES OF ACHATINA (ACHATINA) ACHATINA (LINNÉ)". Journal of Molluscan Studies. 45 (3): 328–339.
  9. ^ Dean, W. W.; Mead, A. R.; Northey, W. T. (1970). "Aeromonas liquefaciens in the giant African snail, Achatina fulica". Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. Elsevier. 16 (3): 346–351. doi:10.1016/0022-2011(70)90150-3. PMID 5501200.
  10. ^ Institut für Wissenschaftliche Zusammenarbeit mit Hochschulen der Entwicklungsländer (Tübingen, Germany) (1988). Animal Research and Development. 27–31. Institute for Scientific Co-operation. p. 70. ISSN 0340-3165. LCCN 76647555. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Snippet of page 70 Archived 22 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine

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