The giant African snail is a hermaphrodite, meaning that each individual has both male and female reproductive organs (2) (3) (4) (5). Courtship begins as soon as it encounters a prospective partner, with one individual approaching the other from behind, and mounting the shell. If the snail that has been mounted accepts the potential mate, it will bend its head backwards and begin to rock its body, and the pair will then proceed to mating (5). In order to reproduce, the two individuals must engage in a reproductive behaviour known as ‘reciprocal copulation’, where sperm from one snail is used to fertilise the eggs in the other, and vice versa (3) (4) (5). The eggs are usually laid between 8 and 20 days after copulation has taken place, although the giant African snail is capable of storing sperm for much longer, and the eggs are generally deposited in a nest that has been excavated in the soil, or among leaves and stones (4) (5). The number of eggs laid in each clutch depends on the age of the snail, although it is usually between 100 and 500 eggs. The young snails hatch after around 11 to 15 days, depending on the temperature and the local conditions (4) (7).
Mainly active at night, the giant African snail feeds on living or dead plant matter from as many as 500 different plant species, including many economically valuable crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, cacao and banana, as well as many others (2) (3) (4).