U.S. customs inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized a shipment of several dozen live giant African snails, considered a delicacy in Nigeria but also voracious pests that can eat paint and stucco off houses, officials said on Monday. Weighing around 0.9kg each, including their shells, and measuring about 15cm in length, the 67 snails arrived from Lagos, Nigeria, in two plastic baskets with paperwork describing them as being for human consumption, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said.
According to Customs and Border Protection, the giant snails can consume more than 500 types of plants, and will even munch on the exterior of homes if fruits and vegetables are not available.
The mollusks appeared to be packaged as a personal shipment and were marked as destined for an address in San Dimas, California, about 48 kilometres east of Los Angeles, agency spokeswoman Lee Harty said. No attempt was made to conceal or smuggle the snails, the largest such shipment ever seized at LAX, Harty said. But the creatures are prohibited from entry because they are deemed a highly invasive pest that pose a serious threat to U.S. agriculture, the environment and public health, the agency said.