Lissachatina fulica (ex: Achatina fulica) - Giant African Snail / Caracol-Gigante-Africano (Férussac, 1821)
The Brown Tower
Description: Lissachatina fulica, previously known as Achatina fulica, is a species of land snails belonging in the class Gastropoda, subclass Orthogastropoda, superorder Heterobranchia, order Pulmonata, subinfraorder Stylommatophora, infraorder Sigmurethra, superfamily Achatinoidea, family Achatinidae and subfamily Achatininae.
There are four subspecies in this species:
Lissachatina fulica hamillei (Petit, 1859)
Lissachatina fulica rodatzi (Dunker, 1852)
Lissachatina fulica sinistrosa (Grateloup, 1840)
Lissachatina fulica umbilicata (Nevill, 1879)
Lissachatina fulica is a large snail that is native to East Africa. They have a very wide diet, being able to feed on decaying vegetable matter, fruits, live vegetables, rich soil, tiny stones, bones and even concrete. The Lissachatina fulica needs a lot of calcium (Ca, atomic number 20) to maintain their shell healthy. Deficiency in calcium causes the shell to break or / and to become very soft, eventually making the snail eat its own shell to get calcium and die, or to feed on the shell of other snails, causing damage to that snail. This condition is very serious to the health of the snail and can lead to its death. Later on, I will provide a list of allowed food and a calcium-rich diet that is exceptional to the health of the snail's shell.
They are hermaphrodites. They are also able to self-fertilize, but these cases are considered rare. A bump (often confused as a tumor) on the right side of the head appears as the snail matures; this is actually the snail's genitalia which they use through bilateral mating. Snails of different sizes will often mate unilaterally, the larger acting as the female. The transfer of gametes can last up to two hours and courting involves touching each other's heads and frontal parts. The sperm transferred can be stored for two years and an average of 200 eggs can be produced. Adulthood is reached in about 6 months, but they only stop growing when they die. After adulthood, growth slows. They can live up to 10 years with an average of 5 or 6 under captivity; in nature, that expectancy is usually halved. They prefer to stay hidden underground during the day, and come out of the ground to feed at night.
They are hosts to a few parasites, which include:
1 - Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, which causes cardiopulmonary strongylosis in cats. The diagnosis is completed through microscopic identification and confirmation of the pathology through the examination of the parasites in the faeces.
2 - Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which causes eosinophilic menigoencephalitis. The diagnosis is done through lumbar punctioning, the exam of hemogram, blood culture and C-Reactive Protein.
3 - Angiostrongylus costaricensis, which causes abdominal angiostrongyliasis. Of hard diagnosis and not detectable through the examination of the faeces. One of the marks of this pathology is the eosinophilia in the hemogram, which is the mass production of eosinophils. The parasites place themselves in the arterioles of the mesenteric artery of the ileum cecal region of the intestine in the lower right quadrant, causing pain that imitates appendicitis, or in the spermatic artery. They do not appear in ultrasound scans or in computed tomography with intravenous contrast. Diagnosis can be done through colonoscopy (I'm unaware how reliable it is) with biopsy of the inflammated areas or through laparatomy, with excision of the affected part of the intestine followed by anastomosis. The biopsy will comprove the pathology if the patient has it.
4 - Schistosoma mansoni, which causes schistosomiasis, detectable through the faeces. The presence of eosinophilia in the hemogram (mass production of eosinophils) and the conduction of the examination of the faeces with quantitative coproscopy (such as Hoffman or Kato-Katz) might detect the pathology. The hemogram displays leukopenia, anemia and thrombocytopenia, being pathognomonic the fibrosis and periportal thickening, hypertrophy of the left hepatic lobe and increased caliber of the superior mesenteric artery. Rectal biopsy may also be used.
5 - Trichuris spp., which is detectable in the faeces and causes trichuriasis.
6 - Hymenolepis spp., which is detectable in the faeces and causes hymenolepiasis.
7 - Strongyloides spp., which is detectable in the faeces and in mucous secretions and causes strongyloidiasis.
Exceptional food sources to the health of a Lissachatina fulica can include: apple, apricot, avocado, banana, plum, pumpkin, pitaya, grapes, kiwi, mango, melon, nectarine, orange, Indian fig, peach, pear, blackberry, raspberry, tomato leaves, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, green beans, mushrooms (not all, thus, not recommended), peas, berries, potato, sweet corn, turnip, leaves of Taraxacum sp. (not recommended due to the use of pesticides), oats, raw eggs, mowed egg shells, cuttlefish bone, whole wheat bread and collard greens.
An exceptional, rich main diet for strengthening the shell includes extremely mowed egg shells (in which the particles look like sand) and chemical-free collard greens. More chemical-free food can be added occasionally. They prefer rich, humid soil to thrive, such as worm humus and prefer humid habitats. Water containing chlorine (Cl, atomic number 17) might cause damage towards the snail's life expectancy, so for the health of the snail, chlorine-free water is recommended.
Size: Around 7cm in height and 20cm in length or more on the adults.
Highly adaptable to a wide variety of habitats. They are native to East Africa, but adapted to other conditions after irresponsible introduction. They have established in most temperate regions, and now their habitat includes the humid tropics. The Lissachatina fulica can now be found in agricultural areas, coastland, natural forest, planted forests, riparian zones, scrub and shrublands, urban areas, and wetlands.
The individual in the middle seems to be another snail and not a Lissachatina fulica, so this text may suffer changes in the future
Text revision by Fernanda Barcellos (www.facebook.com/fernandaleonell)
PROJECT NOAH (Português): www.projectnoah.org/spottings/1684168453