Miami, Florida, is under siege by disease-carrying giant snails. But don’t worry! Labrador Retrievers are being trained to deal with the slimy problem, probably because dogs aren’t completely skeeved by the phrase “disease-carrying giant snails.”
The Giant African Land Snail (Achatina fulica), which grows to be about 8 inches long (“as big as rats,” Reuters helpfully points out), is an invasive species first spotted in Florida two years ago. It has no natural enemies and causes severe damage to agriculture and natural habitats, says the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. They also damage buildings by happily munching away on stucco and plaster.
They also pose a health risk to humans, because they carry a parasite called the Rat Lungworm.
I know. This story just gets more and more disgusting.
Making the snails even more charming, they give off a strong odor. So now we know the snails are slimy, parasite-riddled, Rat Lungworm-carrying, and stinky.
Also, fun fact: Giant African Land Snails produce about 1,200 eggs a year. All of them. Because they’re hermaphroditic: they have both testes and ovaries, producing both sperm and ova. Bonus fun fact: they live about 9 years. Bonus bonus fun fact: ERMAHGERD that’s a lot of snail eggs.
So far, officials have tried all sorts of techniques for getting rid of the Giant African Land Snail, also known by its acronym, GALS. The state has created public service announcements and even a “GALS Junior Detective” program, which is a pretty smart idea, since most kids are like “Yay, slimy giant snails! Can I ride them?”
Chemical treatments, traps, raking and hand-picking have so far yielded 128,000 GALS, but the slimeballs are still there, destroying buildings and plants and pretty much everything they touch, like some kind of Evil Midas Touch of Snail Snot.
Enter the Labrador Retrievers, who are particularly good at sniffing out the fetid stench of the GALS.
“So we’re building four-legged technology into this program as quickly as we can,” Richard Gaskalla, the head of plant industry at the Florida Agriculture Department, told Reuters.
A black lab named Bear is almost done with his three-month training process, said officials, and two more are expected to be trained.
Good luck with all that, Florida! Oh, and here’s the theater trailer PSA they made:
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