Sterile apple snails

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Sterile apple snails

Postby snailspace on Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:28 pm

I was hoping to get some feedback on an idea that relates to both apple snails and people who enjoy them as aquarium pets.

Currently, USDA does not permit the interstate transport of apple snail species other than P. bridgesii. This is because most apple snail species are considered to be potential invasive species if released into the environment. P. bridgesii is considered less of a threat to the environment because it does not readily consume aquatic plants (at least not to the degree that P. canaliculata and P. insularum do). The other feature of apple snails that make them invasive pests is that they produce enormous numbers of eggs that make it likely that they can become established once introduced.

One way to mitigate the risk of apple snails would be to make them reproductively sterile so that they would be unable to reproduce if they were introduced into the environment. There are several ways that this could be accomplished, but the end result would be a snail that will not reproduce in your aquarium (or in the environment, if released).

Reading this forum, I see that the many hobbyists are facinated by apple snail reproduction (mating, egg laying, hatching, development).

My questions: As an aquarium hobbyist, how would you feel about having a sterile apple snail in your tank? Would you still find apple snails attractive as an aquarium pet? Would you buy a sterile snail (for example A. spixi or some other spcies that is currently prohibited) if USDA would permit sterile snails to be sold interstate?
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Re: Sterile apple snails

Postby Betta Belle on Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:41 pm

I know this is old, but I had to reply. One of the things I find the most fun about my pets is the ability to breed them. If an animal is sterilized in my house, you know I don't intend to breed them. If they are intact, you know that the possibility of them being bred is still there and never say never.
This goes with any pet I have, including my dogs. I don't buy from breeders that have spay/neuter contracts for a reason. If I am spending $2,500 for a dog, I want the OPTION of breeding that dog, IF I want to. I don't want the choice taken from me.
The same thing goes with my smaller pets. I have only had one pet left intact that I never bred, and I never intended on breeding and that was my hamster, and I regret that, because I have yet to find a hammy like her in all the years I have been looking.
As you have said yourself, many of the people involved with snails are particularly fascinated by the breeding aspect of these snails. That is easily half of the reason to raise them. Take that away, and... what's the point?
Not only that, who would then get the monopoly on selling those types of snails? The average hobbyist isn't going to be able to sterilize, which leaves huge pet corps, who with zero competition from the small hobbyist, would charge outrageous and astronomical prices.
Arfe there those that would be interested, just because? Of course. There are always going to be those that just want a pet. But I know I would not be one of those people.
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Re: Sterile apple snails

Postby snailspace on Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:42 am

Thanks for responding to my post. I understand your position on the issue (sterile snails vs. fertile) and I expect that most people on this forum have a similar opinion. I was wondering why so many people viewed the post, yet left no reply. Perhaps I worded it badly. I appreciate you taking time to reply.

Breeding apple snails is part of the fun of owning them. I get that. I have been growing them and breeding them for about ten years now. They are beautiful animals. Although I appreciate them on one level, I also see them as potentially damaging to the aquatic ecosystems in the US. They can dramatically change the habitat in ponds and stormwater ditches where they are introduced, affecting other aquatic species and limiting the effectiveness of nutrient mitigation by aquatic plants.

I am an invasive species biologist who is looking for ways to prevent the spread of invasive species, but (if possible) without depriving people of the satisfaction that they receive in owning exotic animals. Sterility seems like a possible solution to the invasive species problem, but it doesn't appeal much to the consumer. As it turns out, it is harder than expected to make sterile apple snails, so I would not expect to see sterile snails offered in pet stores anytime soon. Even if it were possible and consumers accepted them, I'm not sure that it would make a significant difference at this point. Apple snails (Pomacea maculata) are present thoughout the South and moving farther North every year. The cows are already out of the barn, so finding new ways to close the door (such as reproductive sterility) will not likely have much impact now.
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Re: Sterile apple snails

Postby snapple on Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:57 pm

I would be happy to buy a sterile snail. I only breed those I am unable to buy any more--because it is the only way to keep my supply. I have no actual desire to breed.
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