Hall County

Giant ‘mystery’ snails invading Lake Lanier, DNR officials warn

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Add “giant mystery snails” to the list of things to worry you about Lake Lanier.

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The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is warning anglers and boaters to be aware and help prevent the further spread of an invasive “mystery” snail at the lake.

The snails, known as Japanese Mystery Snails, have been found in multiple waterbodies in Georgia, and now in Lake Lanier.

“While we initially hoped that this was an individual specimen found on Lanier, further investigation indicated that this is a viable, reproducing population of snails,” said Jim Page, WRD Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator.

The snails are olive green to brownish, and their shells can grow to longer than two inches.


Invasive aquatic species can cause “significant ecological and economic impacts” across the state. DNR officials warn the snails can damage boats, impede access to the water and disrupt the natural ecosystem. They can also host parasites.

“It’s like how did it get here,” said Robert Jackson, enjoying a day at the beach. “One of the things that comes to mind is that people in Atlanta love their aquariums, so I’m wondering if someone maybe released their aquarium.”

The DNR says he might be right. “While we cannot say with absolute certainty how this invasive snail was introduced into Lake Lanier, its presence in various food markets within the U.S. and its popularity as a pet for some aquarium owners are at least two possible sources,” Page said, noting that it’s illegal to have live mystery snails in Georgia.

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Boaters are encouraged to wash down their equipment after each outing on the water. People are also asked not to dump aquariums into the lake.

Carla Satterfield brings her boat to the lake every week. Channel 2′s Bryan Mims showed her photos of the snails, and she was surprised by their size. She worries that the snails could threaten the lake’s native aquatic life.

“With invasive species, you never know what they bring to the ecosystem – whether they’ll damage the fish or the natural ecosystem we have in the lake, just with the natural mussels we already have in the lake,” she said.

If you come across one of these snails at Lake Lanier, DNR officials say remove it and keep it alive in a secure container, then report it to a regional DNR office.


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