“Giant” snails, some as big as an adult’s fist, have been spotted by villagers in China’s southern Guangxi province where they have become a threat to local species, Chinese media reported on Saturday. 
Agricultural experts said the snails, also known as giant African land snails, were destructive when they infest crops.
However to the chagrin of many southerners, who are known to eat “everything with four legs except the table,” experts warned that those snails usually carry all sorts of parasites and would be harmful if eaten.
The news has disappointed many bloggers, who expressed their regrets on Weibo on Saturday.
“What a shame,” many wrote. “It definitely looks delicious.”
Others suggested that China should sell these giant snails to the French.
“Are you sure we can’t eat them since most Chinese are already poison-proof?” another microblogger wrote, referring to China’s recent food safety scandals.
Villagers in a suburban town of Nanning, where snails were first spotted, said they use organic farming methods that are pesticides-free. They suspected this encouraged the snails to spread.
Farmers have launched an emergency task force to kill the large number of snails. After catching a snail, villagers first smack its shell with a brick, and then lay it in the middle of the road so cars will drive over its body and crush it.
Giant African snails have the ability to reproduce rapidly. Adult snails have a height of around seven centimetres and can grow to more than 20cm in length.
Chinese, especially those from southern parts of the country, are known to be avid consumers of exotic food. While hairy crabs that once originated in China have been blamed for hunting local species in Germany, they were recently returned to the mainland as edible delicacies.