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May 19, 2013

Sluggish? Do we mean, slow, methodical and…slimey? The big black slugs (introduced European Black Slug) have been all over some of the trails the past few days. They are probably a gardener’s nightmare and they are definitely really yucky if you step on them in your bare feet (something to be avoided!) but otherwise, slugs go about minding their own business. They do not keep people up at night by chirping, peeping, screaming or thumping in the night and they are hardly aggressive (although I suppose my perspective might change if I were the size of say, an ant). They are hermaphroditic and so can reproduce without fretting about social issues (although perhaps they prefer a mate?).

They need no highways because they glide along on the mucous that they produce (they do require moisture to make this mode of transport feasible). Slugs munch on detritus, carrion, rotting vegetation…well, many of the things in our compost. They carry their small shell on their back and breath through a small hole (pneumostome) just to the side of that shell. They have cool little tentacles that they can retract if they are disturbed. They do not fight back or threaten but roll up as tight as possible and rock back and forth – hopefully putting a predator off with their behaviour. I have heard no rumours of slug bites sending anyone to the hospital.

Slugs, are in fact not bad neighbours. Unless you have a garden. Then some negotiation may be required. Sluggish? Perhaps not the insult it was meant to be. All in all, being sluggish may not be a bad way to be.

European Black Slug

European Black Slug – material stuck to the mucous

European Black Slug

European Black Slug

European Black Slug

European Black Slug – see the pneumostome for breathing?

writing and photos copyright Joanne Siderius, 2013

  1. Not a big fan of the slug….but cool pictures! 🙂

  2. Sandi permalink

    That is definitely a fine looking slug. I did not know slugs had shells. Is the ridged area the shell? Where they introduced on purpose? Thanks again for the great pics :o)

    • very big aren’t they! The shell is very small and located at the top of and underneath the smooth part (the mantle). We used to dissect very big slugs and I remember the shell being a small white disk. They were brought over accidentally. I am not sure how. They are pretty impressive, though.

      Have a good holiday weekend!

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