Stopping Giant Snail risks at the border

12 March 2021

Biosecurity has helped ensure Australia remains free of one of the world’s worst invasive pests, with a number of Giant African Snail interceptions made at the border last year.

Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, said the Giant African Snail is one of Australia’s priority plant pests, given the damaging impact it could have.

“If this huge snail was to establish here it could be a risk to more than 500 plant species—ranging from fruit and vegetables, to ornamental and native plants,” Dr Vivian-Smith said.

“It is a significant threat to many of our valuable industries, our environment and even human health, as they can carry pathogenic bacteria and parasites.

“Last year, there were 28 Giant African Snail interceptions at our borders, and we have seen ongoing interceptions this year, so it does pose a real risk for us.

“The interceptions were made in a variety of imported cargo and at different locations across the country at the border.

“This pest is damaging to plants and impacting on farmers and natural ecosystems in many countries overseas and they are difficult to eradicate, so it is important we keep it out.

“Unlike smaller hitchhiker pests, the Giant African Snail is a bit easier to detect, given they are six times larger than the common garden snail and their shells can be up to 20cm long.

“This does not mean the task of keeping it out is any easier. It is a big job, and it will only get harder as the volume of cargo arriving in Australia continues to increase.

“Our biosecurity system includes import conditions and measures at the border to manage the risks, but importers, farmers and even members of the public have a role to play.

“Make sure you follow our conditions when importing cargo to Australia and keep an eye out and report and potential biosecurity pests, like Giant African snails.”

For more information on the Giant African Snail visit awe.gov.au/giant-african-snail.

For more information on reporting biosecurity risks, visit awe.gov.au/report.