Wildlife Officials Battle Invasive Snails on Salt River

A cluster of apple snail eggs clings to vegetation. | Courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department

A popular aquarium pet is becoming a nuisance on one of Arizona's best-known waterways.

As Cronkite News reported last week, officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department are trying to eradicate apple snails from the lower section of the Salt River, northeast of the Phoenix area. The snails likely were introduced to the river via the aquarium trade.

The snails have shells that can grow up to 6 inches long, a Game and Fish official told Cronkite News. They also eat a lot of vegetation and have few predators in the area, because they don't taste good, she said.

Adding to the problem is the fact that apple snails reproduce rapidly. One female can produce up to 15,000 offspring in a year, Game and Fish said. And the snails can carry a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.

The department perodically conducts removal events with workers and volunteers. One such event, earlier this summer, removed about 3,500 egg masses and more than 700 apple snails from a section of the lower Salt River.

To find out more about volunteering for a removal event, visit the department's website.

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