Giants move to aquarium

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A SLIM-wave has hit an aquarium following a baby boom at a borough school.

Staff at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium are looking after more than a dozen giant land snails after an unexpected breeding boom at the school.

Teachers contacted the aquarium to say they were running out of room to house the giant gastropods.

Now the snails are to go on display in a new enclosure as part of Blue Reef’s exotic animal collection, which also includes fish, monkeys, lizards, and poison dart frogs.

Blue Reef’s Anna Pellegrino said: “We don’t usually look after snails but we decided to make an exception with these as there really weren’t many other options available to the school.

“They’re certainly impressive specimens and dwarf our native snails and, although there’s 12 of them, they’re not difficult to keep track of as they move so slowly.”

The giant African land snail is a king among snails – it is the largest known gastropod.

The biggest giant African land snail ever recorded measured almost 40cm from snout to tail when fully extended and weighed nearly one kilogram.

They are originally from an area of east Africa but are spreading throughout Asia and across the Indo-pacific islands, including Hawaii.

Giant African land snails have voracious appetites eating at least 500 different types of plant and this, combined with their high reproductive rate, means that in a typical year an adult snail can lay up to 1,200 eggs.

In 1966 a young boy returning from holiday in Hawaii smuggled three African land snails into Miami as pets.

His grandmother released them into her garden and seven years later more than 18,000 snails and lots of eggs had been found.

It took the state of Florida almost ten years and more than $1m to rid themselves of the illegal immigrants.