‘Out of control’ giant snails could be eaten by elusive bird in St. Bernard Parish

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The “apple snail” is an invasive species that is destroying local crops. Image by WGNO’s Christopher Leach, 2020.

CHALMETTE, La. – The first known sighting in St. Bernard Parish of a bird native to Florida could be great news for local rice and crawfish farmers.

A Limpkin, native to south Florida, spotted by Glenn Ousset in St. Bernard Parish during the recent Bird Festival. Photo by Tony Fernandez

The bird, called a “Limpkin,” eats a type of snail that’s known for its size. They’re called “apple snails,” an invasive species from South America that were first brought to the U.S. in fish tanks.

Now, the snails are eating their way through the rice crop and out-competing native crawfish for scavenging food sources. And they just keep coming. The LSU Agriculture Center says female apple snails can produce as many as 10,000 new snails– each year.

But the long-beaked Limpkin could offer rice and crawfish farmers some hope.

According to an announcement from St. Bernard Parish, the bird guide for the recent St. Bernard Bird Festival, Glenn Ousset, spotted a Limpkin on the bird trail at Casa Fernandez during the Festival.

And beyond the excitement of identifying the bird, there’s the excitement of what Limpkins could do in the Parish.

The announcement notes that “the Limpkin feeds primarily on apple snails,” which are “out of control” in St. Bernard Parish.

But if the birds “migrate here in greater numbers, the apple snail problem may be contained.”

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