A new snail species has been
introduced to the Cayman Islands, and these are now well established in the
local environment wrecking havoc on native plants, according to local
Not native to the Cayman Islands,
the slimy visitors seems to be making their presence known recently because of
the recent wet weather.
A garden in the early morning hours
and afternoon plant watering is a great attraction to snails of different
kinds, like a happy hour bar on Friday afternoons after work. (But snails like
the taste of beer, and will not resist a beer trap, falling asleep right where
they have consumed a bellyful.)
Mat Cottam of the Department of Environment
says snails will come out in abundance and congregate when and where conditions
are most suitable — in moist, humid areas — and where they are sheltered from
predators like birds, or areas where there are suitable food sources, like a
garden full of tasty green plants.
He said snails are attracted to
beer. One way to get rid of them is to use a saucer filled with beer. Beer
traps need to be tended and topped up regularly, so it is a good idea to ask
permission of the beer owner before using beer for these purposes!
Other remedies should be used with
caution. “Some slug and snail pellets are toxic to people, pets and wildlife,
as well as snails. However, low or nontoxic pellets are available, so it is
best to check brands and ingredients before you buy,” said Mr. Cottam.
There are also a variety of
alternative treatments, including copper wire, eggshells, and bird netting.
Mr. Cottam said native snails have
generally evolved alongside native trees and plants, and so do not tend to pose
an overwhelming threat to native species, but some exotic and imported plants
may have the potential to be more susceptible to predation by local snails.
He said snail introductions include
the Cuban Garden snail, Zachrysia provisory, and the Banded Tree Snail, Orthalicus
undatus. Both, he said, were previously introduced in Florida and likely made
their way to Cayman in landscaping shipments.
“The Banded Tree snail, with its
large cream-and-brown-banded shell in particular is highly visible, and may be
seen on tree trunks or the sides of houses. The Cuban Garden snail is an
acknowledged garden pest, and responds to standard anti-slug/ snail applications.”
Mr. Cottam added that introduced
species are of special concern because they have evolved outside of the islands
and as such are not necessarily susceptible to the “local balance of nature”. A
lack of natural predators is one typical problem with introduced species. In
the absence of natural predators, introduced species can proliferate unchecked,
and become what is termed “invasive species”.
“Snails are found all over the
islands, and Cayman has several endemic species of snail which are found
nowhere else in the world,” said Mr. Cottam.
One such example, he said, is the
Little Cayman snail. Cerion nanus, a tiny land snail known only from Little
Cayman. The known world-population currently occupies an area of shrub land
about the size of a tennis court.
When asked about feasting on these
creatures, Mr. Cottam said he did not know and he was not about to try one.
For further information on
alternative treatments see