Apple Snails Found in Plaquemines Parish

October 20, 2010

Apple snails have been found in canals and ditches along Barriere Road in Belle Chasse and as far south as Jesuit Bend. Originally from South America, they are not native to Louisiana. Apple snails were most likely released into the wild by aquarium owners. Once released, they consume large amounts of plant material, out-competing native species for food because of their large size and ability to populate quickly. The lack of plant material may damage the ecosystem of fish and other aquatic organisms.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser is urging anyone who sees the apple snails to simply pick them up, place them in a plastic bag, and throw the bag into the garbage. “We should not tolerate another invasive species which can damage our ecosystem, it is important that we, as a community, act quickly, says President Nungesser.

Apple snails are among the largest of freshwater snails with sizes ranging from two to four inches. They lay large egg masses above the water line. The clusters of 200-600 eggs should be smashed, then scraped off the foundation into the body of water. The Parish reported the snail sightings to the Louisiana Department of Wildllfie and Fisheries and the Barataria Terrebone National Estuary Program who track the snails.

Snails should not be consumed in their raw form as they can transmit disease, most notably the rat lungworm. The rat lungworm is a deadly parasite which can be transmitted to both humans and other animals. There is no risk, however, from handling the bright, pink egg sacks or the apple snails, but the Parish Health Department encourages residents to wear gloves while doing so and to make sure to wash your hands afterward.

Anyone with questions regarding apple snails or if anyone has seen them beyond the Belle Chasse area in Plaquemines Parish, please call the Plaquemines Parish Health Department, at 504-394-3510.

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