Gripped to the walls along the San Antonio River are what look to be “wads of bright pink bubble gum.”
And those lookalike pieces of gum need to be scraped away, according to the San Antonio River Authority. That’s because those wads are egg casings laid by invasive Giant apple snails.
While they can “easily” be mistaken for gum, the organization says it would be dangerous to do so.
If they are left to hatch, thousands of new baby apple snails will join the others already invading the Texas river.
As the weather begins to heat up in San Antonio, experts say sightings of the invasive apple snail are increasing.
‘Hungry, hungry hippos’
Giant apple snails were first spotted along the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk in October 2019, according to SARA. Since then, the snails have continued to threaten the river ecosystem.
Native to South America, they are on the list of “invasive, prohibited and exotic species,” according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. It is believed that they are released into waterways by aquarium owners who buy the snails at pet shops, but give them up once they outgrow their tanks.
If allowed to reach full size, a Giant apple snail can grow to about 6 inches in diameter — “the size of a large apple,” officials said.
“Apple snails are voracious eaters of aquatic plants,” SARA said in a May 17 blog post. “Basically, they are the hungry, hungry hippos of the river. Unfortunately, they eat the plants that our river’s native organisms rely on for food and habitats. This presents a big problem for our local creeks and the San Antonio River.”
Because they are not native to the San Antonio River, there are no predators.
‘Bright pink bubble gum’
The female “hungry hippos” can have “LOTS of babies,” experts said. Each week, the mature females can lay clutches with about 500 to 1,000 eggs. In some cases, females can lay 2,000 eggs at a time.
In hopes of eliminating the threat, SARA helps coordinate snail and egg removals. In April 2020, crews removed 4,217 adult snails and 22,154 egg cases from the river.
And in January, the City of San Antonio drained the river, which allowed for the removal of 500 adult snails.
“Staff routinely monitor the Museum Reach, Downtown, and King William sections of the San Antonio River Walk to search for and remove new findings,” the organization said.
If you see the bright pink egg cases, or any adult apple snails, SARA asks that you call 866-345-7272 to report your sightings.
Volunteers can also attend an Apple Snail Training from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 26. To register, email email@example.com.