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Norm's Desk

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A New Pest for Florida Homeowners

If you want to live in the Florida sunshine year round you have to put up with a lot.  Floridians stay prepared for hurricanes to hit their coastline, and you never know when a crocodile is going to come crawling out of a marsh to steal your golf ball.  On top of crocodiles and alligators, a 17 foot, 17 inch Burmese Python weighing 165 pounds was found last August! (story on that here).

But now there’s a new pest hitting Florida -  and it’s slow and slimy.  Meet the giant African land snail.  It can grow as big as a rat, and can eat through stucco and plastic!  The giant escargot are coming out of hibernation and over a thousand of them are being caught each week in Miami-Dade County.  One snail can produced about 1,200 eggs a year!  They like stucco for the calcium it contains for their shells.  Hit one crossing the road and you could blow out a tire!  (This really does happen in Barbados)  Even worse, they carry a parasitic rat lungworm that can cause a form of meningitis in humans. 

Scientists held a meeting in Gainesville last week to discuss a way to get rid of the mollusks.  (Obviously the African land snail is not on the endangered species list.)

If the snail ate through the stucco wall of your home, would it be covered by your Homeowners policy?  Damage to a house by vermin is excluded on homeowners policies.  So the real question is – are giant snails considered ‘vermin?’  The definitions of vermin are broad – mice, rats, squirrels, snakes, turtles, raccoons, foxes, otters, badgers, weasels, minks, ferrets, muskrats, skunks, carpet beetles, roaches, bedbugs, fleas and lice.   Turtles?  They hide in shells and move slow, so maybe they are the most like snails.  But I can’t see even a snapping turtle eating through stucco.  

Read the original Fox News report here.




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