Giant apple snail
Scientific Name:Pomacea maculata
Apple snails have a heavy golden yellow to dark brown shell with dark banding. Among the largest freshwater snails, apple snails are typically between 2 and 4 inches tall. The largest shells can reach 6 inches.
Range and Habitat
Popular aquarium snail native to South America. Introduced to the United States due to irresponsible aquarium dumping. Prefer well-oxygenated, slow-moving waters with low salinities. In Louisiana, found in freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, ponds, and ditches. Highly adaptable and able to survive drought and low oxygen conditions by burronwing in the mud in a dormant-like state. Currently found in 30 parishes across southern Louisiana.
Spend the majority of their lives under water but lay their eggs above the water line. Egg clusters are bright pink and can be seen on vegetation and other hard surfaces like pilings or culverts. Each cluster contains between 500 and 700 eggs. Females are able to lay a new cluster every five to 14 days. Feed on a wide variety of native and introduced aquatic plants.
Human Health Concern
Apple snails are also known to be an intermediate host to rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonesis), a parasite that can infect humans through the consumption of raw or undercooked snail meat or contaminated produce. Most cases are mild and people fully recover, but severe cases can cause chronic nerve damage or even death. Some apple snails collected in Louisiana have tested positive for rat lungworm, but no human cases have been identified in Louisiana. People should also avoid handling the egg clusters as they may contain a neurotoxin that irritates the eyes and skin.