Southwest Florida snail warning

CREATED Nov. 14, 2013

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CAPE CORAL, Fla. - They're small and potentially deadly and they could be lurking in your backyard right now.

Toxic snails are invading Southwest Florida and they could pose a big threat to you and your pets.

"I'm certain its an invasive species," said Alfred Humphreys in an interview with FOX 4 in May.

He contacted us concerned about these Island Apple Snails popping up in the canal behind his mother-in-law's Cape Coral home.

We checked with wildlife experts at the time who said the only known threat at this point with this type is their tendency to compete with other snails that many canal creatures feed off of.

But now, scientists are telling another cautionary tale.

"They've only been here recently, but they're spreading very rapidly," said James Beever with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. He studies these snails in area marshes.

"In general, just warn people not to consume these snail egg masses, although I don't know why they'd want to in the first place," he said.

The toxin from their bright pink/red eggs that are found up and down the canals of Southwest Florida are especially concerning for curious dogs and kids.

That's exactly what lives next door to where Humphreys first noticed the problem.

"What do you think about them?" reporter Kelli Stegeman asked the two little boys, Preston and Myles, who live next door. "A little gross," they said.

They have definitely noticed the snails.

"I see some snails, they mostly come out in the day and at night they sink to the bottom so you won't see them," said Preston.

The boys come out to the canal often with their dad, Craig Davison.

"I wouldn't have thought that they were toxic but I wouldn't let my little boys get near the egg sacks," Davison said.

He says the wildlife is part of living in a canal. He plans to keep a safe distance and focus on fishing with his boys.