GIANT domestic snails that were dumped in Spring Lake at Springfield have spread rapidly and had potential to cause havoc on the local ecosystem.
Luckily council Vector Management officer Nick Topolcic noticed the unfamiliar snails, which can grow to the size of a human hand, in the lake during a routine inspection of the area.
Councillor Andrew Antoniolli said he congratulated Mr Topolcic on the discovery of the snail which, if left unattended, could have spread to major water systems.
"Officers from Biosecurity Queensland identified the snail to be the Spike-top Apple Snail, a non-declared pest species that can cause harm to local waterways," Cr Antoniolli said.
"Our officers have found thousands of eggs and literally hundreds of snails upon first inspection.
"If nothing was done the place could have been overrun.
"These things are like the cane toad of the waterways."
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With very few natural predators and a rapid breeding cycle a small outbreak of Spike-top Apple Snails can quickly become a serious problem.
The snails eat a lot of vegetation in waterways and can starve or drive out other species.
"Council is working with lake owners Delfin and Lend Lease as well as Biosecurity Queensland to contain and eliminate the outbreak," Cr Antoniolli said.
"Most alarmingly these snails can also harbour meningococcal and present a very clear danger to human health."
Cr Antoniolli said although whoever dumped the domestic snails in the lake probably thought they were doing the right thing, people should be aware of the risks of letting animals free into local waterways.
"Aquariums that are selling these snails, which are generally used for cleaning tanks, should make sure people know how big they can get and that it is an offence to release non-native species into the wild," Cr Antoniolli said.
"At this stage these species are classed as 'non-declared pests', I think the government should give their status a rethink because this could have gotten very nasty."
In addition to repairing the damage done by the snail outbreak the council is in discussion with the Queensland Government to develop a public education campaign to alert residents to the dangers of dumping aquarium pets into local waterways.
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