As a lover of the ugly, I am rather fond of snails and slugs. As long as you don't mind that they are slimy, boneless, eyeless, ruin the garden and infest your fishtank, what's not to love?
Well now I know what's not to love after reading in the Wall Street Journal about the GIANT AFRICAN LAND SNAIL INVASION OF FLORIDA!!!
Not everyone sees these snails as a menace. Some keep them as pets, like Flickr user VenturaB. who took the reasonably attractive photo above. What you can't tell from that photo is exactly how HUGE they are:
They seem to have included that quarter for scale, but really, isn't the guy's arm indication enough?
Of course, just being big isn't so horrible. Here's what's so horrible: they "chew through plants, plaster and stucco, and sometimes carry a parasite that can infect humans with a nonlethal strain of meningitis," and "they eat so ravenously that they leave trails of excrement on walls and the ground."
There's an effort in progress to eradicate these enormous non-native gastropods, but it's no easy battle, since they reportedly can lay 1,200 eggs a year. Another less than encouraging fact: this isn't their first invasion. They were first introduced in the 1960s and were wiped out after a decade of effort in a campaign that cost a million dollars.
Wish the warriors luck, because innocent bystanders can't take much more. One woman quoted in the Wall Street Journal story was so disturbed at the sight of a mere five-inch specimen (they can grow to eight inches long) that she had to go lie down with a migraine, and, her husband said, "She's so panicked that she doesn't want to go out anymore."
-Wombat (No Relation)