HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — In April, a report of invasive snails in Lake Granada and Lake Estrella was made, and on May 25, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have confirmed invasive snail species, according to a news release.

Invasive species of mystery snails found in Hot Springs. They can carry parasites and affect the entire ecosystem. Courtesy of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

“We collected more than 260 snails from Lake Granada and Lake Estrella within a few hours for pathology testing,” said Matt Horton, AGFC aquatic nuisance species coordinator. “A preliminary inspection of Lake Maria and Lake Sophia did not turn up any evidence of mystery snails, but that does not eliminate the possibility that they have spread to those lakes.”

There are three species of mystery snails, banded, Chinese and Japanese. Invasive species compete with native species for food and other sources, according to the news release. Invasive species can also carry parasites that can infect native fish, mussels and people.

“We know they are either Chinese or Japanese mystery snails, however, to reliably identify the species requires genetic testing, because physical characteristics are so similar,” Horton said. “We have preserved samples and are following up with a different laboratory to determine if we only have one of those species present or both. We don’t know exactly what effects these snails will have on some of our native mussel species, some of which are endangered or threatened and live within the Saline River system, which is downstream of these lakes.”

The snails will be tested at Auburn University Fish Disease Lab for analysis. Additional samples were preserved and will be sent to a separate laboratory to determine the exact species now present in Arkansas, according to the news release.

Mystery snail collection at Lake Estrella Hot Springs, Arkansas. Courtesy of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

How to stop the spread

Unintentionally transportation of aquatic nuisances happens when the species attach themselves to a boat, trailer or livewells. To avoid transferring invasive species, residents should clean any vegetation or debris on their boat, motor and trailer, pull drain plugs and drain the water before leaving the boat ramp, and allow their boat to dry before moving to a new water body, according to the news release.

“An aquarium release is likely where this infestation began,” said Matt Horton, AGFC aquatic nuisance species coordinator. “It may seem harmless to release a couple of aquarium pets into the wild, but without their native predators and environmental conditions to keep them in check, some species can quickly overtake new systems where they are introduced.”

For more information about identifying and reporting invasive species go to the AGFC website.