|Kakum National Park, Ghana|
Bulla achatina Linnaeus, 1758 (original combination)
Achatina achatina, common name the Giant Ghana African snail, also known as the Giant African snail and giant tiger land snail and gigantocochlea, is a species of very large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae. The name "Achatina" is from "achates", Greek for agate. It shares the common name "giant African snail" with other species of snails such as Achatina fulica and Archachatina marginata.
The species is believed to be native to West Africa, within 160 to 300 kilometres of the coasts of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Achatina achatina is routinely confiscated by quarantine authorities at United States airports, especially Baltimore, Dulles, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and San Francisco. These very large snails are kept as pets in the Western world, where owners prize their large size, distinctive markings, and rarity.
It is considered a potentially serious pest, an invasive species that could adversely affect agriculture, natural ecosystems, human health or commerce. A related species of snail (Achatina fulica) has become established in some Caribbean islands, such as Barbados. It has been suggested that these species be given top national quarantine significance in the United States. Snails of the genus Achatina have already established themselves in the wild in Florida, where they are considered a pest.
The shells of these snails often grow to a length of 18 centimetres (7.1 in) with a diameter of 9 centimetres (3.5 in). Certain examples have been surveyed in the wild at 30×15 cm, making them the largest extant land snail species known.
Like almost all pulmonate gastropods, these snails are hermaphrodites, having male and female sex organs. Each snail lays up to 1200 eggs per year. Achatina achatina is an important source of animal protein for West African forest-dwelling ethnic groups, and there is potential for commercial farming.
This species' substantial size and potential for rapid population growth can make the snail a serious pest when introduced to non-native ecosystems. The population size of this species can be curtailed through disease caused by the bacterium Aeromonas liquefaciens but it often has no other natural enemies.
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