Well, Florida’s always sending out its share of ultra-bizarre stories. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that this week, a guy from Miami got in trouble for feeding raw snail goo to his followers. Yup, that’s right. The Miami Herald reports that allegedly this guy in Hialeah went on a trip and brought back some giant East African snails in his suitcase. Highly illegal? Check. These snails in particular, a member of the Achatina fulica species, are especially invasive—they’re known to ravage several hundred species of plants (including citrus), and they even like to munch on our plaster and stucco walls. Oh, and they reproduce like mad—roughly 200 eggs at a time, five or six times a year.
According to the Miami Herald story, this Miami guy is a sort of religious leader who says he practices a traditional African religion. He claims that in his religion it is customary to drink snail juice to cure ills. Unfortunately for him, in Hialeah drinking raw snail juice seems to be having the opposite effect—apparently his followers have been getting extremely sick, have been losing a ton of weight and have been noticing lumps on their stomachs. Grossness factor? 10 to the 10th power.
I’ll bet $100 that 99.9% of the people who got sick off this stuff would never order Escargot off a menu. But they were fine with hanging out in a man’s backyard in Hialeah and believing that drinking raw snail mucus would help them feel better. Raw. Snail. Mucus. Backyard in Hialeah.
All jokes aside, I’d like to wish the folks involved a speedy recovery. It can’t be fun dealing with mystery tummy ailments–lumps on the stomach, good God, what’s that about–so I hope their doctors figure out what’s wrong and get them better soon. And for any Floridians reading this, if you see giant African snails walking around, please call the Florida Department of Agriculture at 1-888-397-1517 and report it. The authorities don’t consider these snails a nuisance—they take their presence and any threat of infestation quite seriously. For more extensive and helpful information about the giant African snail in Florida, please check out this good article from the Orlando Sentinel.