BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – In Louisiana, we enjoy our fried alligator, boiled crawfish, frog legs, and other delicacies that some might classify as “exotic.”

But scientists say there’s one local mollusk that adventurous cooks should approach with extreme caution.

According to the LSU AgCenter, apple snails, which are also known as Pomacea maculata, are an invasive species in Louisiana. Experts say their eggs can pose a threat to humans if they’re not handled properly.

The eggs are bright pink masses that snails lay on structures and plants partially emerging from the water. The eggs contain a protein neurotoxin called PcPV2, which can kill mice and cause irritation of the skin and eyes in humans.

Anyone who wants to fry up a few apple snails must be very careful. The snails need to be thoroughly cooked and properly cleaned, which involves removing all intestinal material. Experts at the AgCenter warn, “raw or undercooked snails can contain rat lungworm, a parasite that can cause potentially fatal eosinophilic meningitis.”

If you’re not sure how to cook the mollusks, it’s wise to avoid doing so.

The snails reproduce rapidly and are known for reaching high population densities in freshwater habitats including rivers, bayous, ponds and swamps.

The AgCenter says, “Destruction of the eggs should be done using an implement to knock egg masses into the water, where they are prevented from hatching” and “skin exposed to apple snail eggs should be washed immediately.”

Click here for more information on apple snails.