A slow-moving Nigerian delicacy was stopped at Los Angeles International Airport when 67 giant land snails were discovered packed in picnic baskets, authorities said yesterday. The live African snails—which can grow to be 8 inches long, 5 inches wide, and live to be 10 years old—arrived with paperwork stating they were for human consumption, but federal authorities say they are a damaging, invasive species, reports CBS. "The significant interception of giant African snails is the first time this pest has been encountered in such large quantity and as a consumption entry" in Los Angeles, a Customs and Border Protection official says.
The snails, which carry a parasite that can give humans meningitis, are known to consume more than 500 kinds of plants and USDA officials say they will even eat the paint and stucco off houses when there's no other food around, the Los Angeles Times notes. The snails are generally fried as a snack but the shipment seized at LAX was turned over to the USDA and then incinerated, reports Reuters. Florida has been battling an infestation of the snails for years and has caught more than 100,000 of them.