You just never know what you’ll see online these days.
A Denver-based Twitter user shared a hilarious photo on Twitter and it’s since been retweeted over 44,000 times.
“Please. My rabbit. He’s very sick,” she wrote.
Except for fact that the photo she included with her post wasn’t a rabbit. It was a giant African land snail.
Are you freaked out yet? Are you a little nervous to go to sleep tonight, scared you’ll have nightmares about gigantic snails? If so, you may want to stop reading now. If not, proceed at your own risk.
Here, take a look at the tweet:
Please. My rabbit. He's very sick. pic.twitter.com/MSejV0hvtn
— madrigal (@whatmaddness) July 23, 2017
Hard to look away, right? That’s probably because the rabbit-sized snail is equal parts strange, horrifying, fascinating … and maybe even a tiny bit cute? Maybe?
But What Is An African Land Snail?
The giant African land snail is one of the largest mollusks that exists. They’re nocturnal and live on average five to seven years, often growing to more than a pound in size. This type of snail eats more than 500 different plant species. In other words, they’re not picky!
Some people even keep them as pets, like YouTuber Emzotic:
Originally native to Africa, they’re now found all over the world, especially in hot and humid environments.
Interestingly, the snails are actually banned in the U.S., as they’re considered a “serious pest.” According to the United States Department of Agriculture, giant African land snails first came to the U.S. back in the 1960s, when a south Florida boy smuggled in three snails after a trip to Hawaii. Within seven years, there were more than 18,000 snails in Florida. Hence the pest problem — these snails multiply like crazy!
An adult snail can lay up to 1,200 eggs a year. Given that these creatures are open to eating a wide variety of plant life, they’re a particular problem in agricultural areas, where they can destroy crops. The snails also snack on stucco and concrete (which contain calcium), and can cause serious damage to the foundation of buildings.
American officials are committed to keeping giant African land sails off of U.S. soil because, in addition to being considered agricultural and infrastructure pests, they’re also seen as a threat to public health. They often carry parasites, like the scary-sounding and dangerous rat lungworm parasite.
The giant snails also carry the salmonella bacteria, which shouldn’t be a problem for most people. But back in 2010, an African immigrant was arrested for importing the snails to be used, he claimed, in a religious ceremony that involved practitioners consuming uncooked mucus from the snails. In this case, salmonella poisoning would be a risk.
Giant African land snails continue to be a problem in some areas, including in Florida, where officials have classified them as an “invasive species.” Back in 2014, 67 of the huge gastropods were seized at the airport in Los Angeles after a flight from Nigeria.
So if you see a giant African land snail in the wild, it’s probably a good idea to alert your local authorities.
Still, we can enjoy the amusing photos of these crazy-looking animals. At least until it’s time for bed …