The Florida sniffing dogs

The state of Florida is employing the use of some special Labradors in their fight for biosecurity.

Bear, Sierra and RJ are trained to follow the scent trails laid down by the invasive Giant African Land Snail.

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Times

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Times

The snail is a pest in the Miami area, where officials believe they have contained the spread of the pest.

The snails can grow as big as rats and they eat plants as well as stucco and plaster because they need lots of calcium to grow their shells. In large numbers, the snails have been known to cause extensive structural damage to buildings.  (And there’s lots of stucco in Florida!)

Photo by Andrew Derksen, Florida Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey Program

Photo by Andrew Derksen, Florida Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey Program

The snails can carry a parasite which is a human health risk because it can cause a form of meningitis but no cases have occurred so far in the United States.

The snails were introduced by a Santeria group which is a religion with a Caribbean and West African background.  The group would use the snails in religious ceremonies.

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