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In Brief

Misidentified Giant Snail Terrorizes Texas

snail
A giant African land snail, as big as a man's hand. (Image credit: AnimalWire)

Giant African land snails, which can grow to the size of rats, are spreading throughout Florida. Their appearance has alarmed many since they have the annoying habit of eating many plants and even stucco houses. They also can carry a parasitic worm that causes meningitis in humans.

It's understandable, then, that Texans would worry about the supposed sighting of a giant African land snail near Houston. A flurry of stories went up this morning saying the invasive menace had arrived. However, the fears may be unfounded.  "We have no reason to believe there are any giant African snails in Texas," Tanya Espinosa, public affairs specialist at U.S. Department of Agriculture, told the New York Daily News.

The snail that appeared in local media reports was the rosy wolf, Espinosa was quoted as saying. This is local snail, common throughout the South, which can often be misidentified as the giant African land snail.

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Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.