Exotic gastropods for sale: an assessment of land and aquatic snails in the South African pet trade
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Gastropods are amongst the most popular of the Mollusca in the pet trade, with globalisation being the main contributing factor facilitating their establishment globally. Although it is known that gastropods are kept as pets in South Africa, relatively little has been documented on the trade for this group. Physical pet stores selling gastropod species were surveyed seasonally in South Africa, aiming to determine 1) the types of species sold, including their trade popularity, trade volume, and the biogeographic realms they originated from, and 2) seasonal variations in gastropod species traded. Six gastropod species were recorded in the South African pet stores with three known invasives (Achatina fulica, A. immaculata, and Pomacea canaliculata). Of these species, the African giant snail A. fulica and the channeled golden apple snail P. canaliculata were the species with higher trade popularity throughout the year. The trade of the other species fluctuated with seasons among pet stores and provinces. Gastropod species sampled in this study originated from four biogeographic realms, with two species from the Afrotropical and Neotropical realms, and one each from the Indomalayan and the Palaearctic. The number of gastropod individuals observed in this study was relatively large; as a result, they may pose a potential risk of invasion should they be released or escape captivity. The pet trade industry at a national level needs to be regularly monitored and the policies on selling invasive non-native species should be implemented to avoid the introduction and establishment of potential invaders.
- RESEARCH: Downs, C