Man’s best friend may soon gain notoriety as a helpmeet to naturalists and environmental scientists. Investigators have turned to Labrador retrievers in an effort to locate and eradicate an invasive species, the African giant snail.
The giant land dwelling mollusks not only destroy a variety of plant species, they also have a voracious “appetite for stucco” which provides necessary calcium to maintain their shell.
Additionally, the African giant land snail “poses a serious health danger” because it carries a parasite known to cause meningitis.
The first report of the snails in Florida was in 1966 when it’s believed that a boy brought three from Hawaii to keep as pets. Ten years later, the snails appeared to have been eradicated.
But in 2011, the giant mollusk's reappearance in Miami-Dade County had environmental authorities scurrying to keep the hermaphroditic species from spreading. Since then more than 120,000 of the fist-sized snails have been collected in the area. The reappearance is believed to be tied to a Miami group practicing Western African and Caribbean religious rituals known as Santeria.
With the aid of the powerful olfactory senses of the black lab named "Bear," who has been in a three-month training program, authorities hope to eliminate the African giant land snail from its Florida home where it has no known predator.
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