Giants of Africa – The African Land Snail

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In Africa, we like to do things on a grand scale and you're sure to find that out during a safari with Thornybush Collection. Huge elephants, generously large portions come meal time and over-the-top luxury are just some of the things that amaze our guests during a visit here.

We also have snails - huge ones. The Giant African land snail is one of the world's largest terrestrial gastropods. Their shells can grow up to 20cm long and they reach a height of almost 10cm. That's quite something for a snail.

While these slow-moving creatures may not be what you bargained for when you signed up to view African wildlife, they're fascinating nonetheless.

Not So Common or Garden-Variety

One of the most interesting things about these snails is that we don't often see them. That's surprising when you consider that they lay up to 1 200 eggs a year, and about 90% of the hatchlings survive. Like all snails, they are hermaphrodites and although they rarely do it, are quite capable of reproducing on their own.

We occasionally come across one sliding slowly along the road while out on a game drive, but they're pretty elusive considering their size.

This may be due to their nocturnal habits. They bury themselves underground and are even able to seal themselves up in their shells for months at a time during dry spells.

Identifying an African Land Snail

You'll know you're looking at an African Land Snail by the sheer size of it - they reach full size within 6 months of hatching. They do have some other defining characteristics such as their conical shells with 7 to 9 spirals, and the two sets of horns on their head. The longer of these bears the eyes.

One of the reasons for this snail's enormous size and survival rate could be its adaptability. They are not fussy and will eat over 500 different kinds of plants. Their voracious appetites do not endear them to farmers and they are regarded as one of the most invasive species in the world.

However, out here in the wild, it's nothing that nature can't handle and there are no accounts of them doing any ecological damage to their natural environment, despite their gluttonous tendencies.

Discover more with Thornybush Collection

There's more to an African safari than going in search of the biggest creatures. There are plenty of smaller amusements to enjoy during your time with Thornybush Collection.

Get in touch today to experience some of the most interesting and varied game drives, South Africa has to offer.


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Monday, 17 June 2019