Animals

Florida's Seven Most Invasive Species: Giant Mosquitoes, African Snails, Feral Cats, and More

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Giant African Land Snails Everybody knows stucco is delicious. Plaster too. You'd eat it for breakfast each morning if you could. But here's the problem with giant African snails. They don't know when to stop. The huge slimy vertebrates annihilate houses by eating through high-calcium stucco and also love to devour native plants.

"More than 1,000 of the mollusks are being caught each week in Miami-Dade and 117,000 in total" since September 2011, according to an article by Reuters. The snails reproduce faster than Gambian pouched rats. The mollusks also can grow to the size of a rat. So they also have a lot in common with rats.

One thing they don't have in common with rats is their use as a projectile. In the Caribbean, the snails have turned into dangerous weapons when launched into an air by lawnmower blades. Their shells also can puncture car tires.

The latest outbreak might be tied to a Miami Santeria group that uses the snails for religious rituals. A prior epidemic occurred in 1966, after a boy brought three snails back from Hawaii. It took $1 million and ten years to rid Florida of them. Now they've returned, and they're eating all our damned stucco.

Can you eat giant African land snails? We know what you're thinking: escargot. But here's what we're thinking: meningitis. The snails can carry a parasitic rat lungworm that causes the lethal brain disease.

Feral Cats Florida has seen an explosion of feral cats in the past months. And somebody wants to have those felines euthanized. Yes, you know who I'm talking about. Those terrible, bloodthirsty, egomaniacal Republi... wait, no, it's environmentalists?! Huh!

Why do environmentalists want to kill the internet's most precious resource? This case is not your typical hippie-liberal-pot-smoker-versus-red-meat-consuming-pry-the-gun-from-my-cold-dead-hands conservative. We won't be seeing Florida's House pass H.B. 7,485 Cat's in the Bag, Bag's in the River. Instead, Congress advocates a bill for "trap-neuter-release programs." Yes, this case has subtleties.

By that, we mean it's a fight between cat people and bird people. Some environmentalists defend the cats, and the bill would offer legal protection to those who spay and neuter the cats. But other conservationists like the bird-loving Audobon Society want to euthanize feral cats because they're already wiping out birds throughout Florida. A recent study showed cats kill 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion birds annually. But they make such adorable YouTube videos. How do you choose sides in an issue like that?

Can you eat feral cats? Don't eat a cat. Come on, man.

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Matt Levin