Miami suburbs infested by healing ritual’s giant African snails
Posted: 05 October 2011 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Giant Alien Snails Attack Miami, Though They’re Not in Much of a Rush

P1-BC784_SNAILS_G_20111003182400.jpg

By ARIAN CAMPO-FLORES
OCTOBER 4, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203791904576608673000592148.html

MIAMI — Floridians have grown accustomed to invasions of exotic creatures, like the Burmese pythons slithering throughout the Everglades. But residents here are especially grossed out by the latest arrivals: giant African land snails that grow as long as eight inches, chew through plants, plaster and stucco, and sometimes carry a parasite that can infect humans with a nonlethal strain of meningitis.

The gastropods are among the most dangerous in the world, agriculture officials say. They each have male and female reproductive organs and can lay 1,200 eggs a year, allowing them to proliferate rapidly. Thousands of them have infested at least five separate neighborhoods in the Miami area. . . .

Though authorities say they still don’t know the origin of the current outbreak, they’re investigating the possibility that the snails were smuggled in for religious rituals.

Last year, law enforcement raided the Hialeah, Fla., home of Charles L. Stewart, who claimed to be an African priest, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in state court. Among the items found on the property, which is in one of the infested neighborhoods, were seven live snails and 57 eggs, according to a document submitted by a state investigator.

Mr. Stewart, who was known as “El Africano” or “Oloye Ifatoku,” allegedly smuggled the snails into the country in his luggage and kept them in a wooden box in his backyard, feeding them lettuce, according to investigators’ interviews with three informants who dealt with Mr. Stewart, the affidavit says. An African priestess he knew also brought in the mollusks, secreted under her dress, according to the affidavit.

The informants said Mr. Stewart used the creatures in healing rituals, cracking the tips of their shells and pouring snail juice into devotees’ mouths, the affidavit says. One informant reported losing weight and developing a painful stomach lump after receiving 10 snail treatments, according to the affidavit. . . .

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Posted: 05 October 2011 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Are they edible and tasty with the right seasoned butter?

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Posted: 05 October 2011 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, I have to admit there’s a risk from alternative medicine I hadn’t even considered! wink

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Posted: 05 October 2011 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I agree with CC, but unfortunately, even if they are edible, most people wouldn’t take the trouble to gather them.  We are over-run with European snails in California because some damned French chef brought them from France in the late 1800s for his San Francisco restaurant, and they escaped.  (Really, he emancipated them.)

Occam

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Posted: 08 October 2011 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Occam. - 05 October 2011 05:54 PM

I agree with CC, but unfortunately, even if they are edible, most people wouldn’t take the trouble to gather them.  We are over-run with European snails in California because some damned French chef brought them from France in the late 1800s for his San Francisco restaurant, and they escaped.  (Really, he emancipated them.)

Occam

They are the major garden pest in CA and have driven some of our smaller native snails to extinction.

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Posted: 08 October 2011 09:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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These foreign snails are commonly used as a cheap and abundant exotic pet food (for turtles, lizards and such). I believe that is one of the reasons they were first imported, although illegally. There is sort of an underground trade in them to use as pet food, as they breed and keep so easily, many people claim they never have to buy pet food again when they keep a terrarium of these snails. Of course some idiot let them loose or didn’t secure them…

I feed my kid’s frog and lizard all sorts of imported caterpillars/worms. But they have been irradiated before import to ensure they cannot turn into moths/beetles and breed in the U.S.

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