TAIPEI (The China Post) — There are many cute creatures in Taiwan, big and small, though some are native to the land while others are not.
A foreign media correspondent from The Australian recently came across such a creature in the streets of Taipei, though its slow pace compared with its gigantic size shocked the expat.
In a tweet shared by Will Glasgow, he recounted his encounter with a giant snail in Daan Park seemingly on the evening after Typhoon Chanthu’s (璨樹) visit.
To better explain the size of the snail, Glasgow even took off his shoe as a comparison to the snail, asking social media users whether “all Taiwanese snails [are] enormous.”
Um… are all Taiwanese snails enormous? This one in Daan Park is almost half the size my shoe! pic.twitter.com/xinwd8RyTb
— Will Glasgow (@wmdglasgow) September 12, 2021
While some poked fun in the replies, claiming that it could be because of his feet’s relative “tiny” size, others pointed out that it is likely an African Giant Snail.
Enthusiastic social media users dug deeper into the history of Taiwan to explain why it’s actually quite common to see these giant snails in the streets of Taiwan.
According to local Chinese-language media, the Japanese introduced the species into Taiwan during its colonization period almost 80 years ago to eat them.
However, they began breeding faster than people could eat, leading to the exotic species’ invasion of Taiwan’s natural ecosystem.
The snails normally grow up to 7-8 centimeters, though extreme size could reach 20 centimeters.
Data from Academia Sinica indicates that the snails are omnivorous and love damp and marshy areas, meaning that they love to roam about at night or when it’s raining.
Nowadays, they are still being sold as food in traditional markets. However, stall owners advise boiling them and extracting the meat from the shell before selling them to customers to ensure no parasites remain.
Owing to having no natural enemies in Taiwan, the snails can now be found in all parts of the island, with ecological conservationists advising farmers to clear their vegetable patches from time to time to reduce the number of snails deeming it a suitable habitat.