Slugs

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Its time for a little more nature study. As the weather conditions in Młociny have turned rather British i.e. damp, we are seeing more and more slugs wandering around the terrace. The Roman snails previously mentioned are still here although they are now less common than the slugs. We have named one of the snails, Henryk, he is the snail equivalent of a marathon runner and he loves spending a few hours charging around the terrace! Next time they appear, I think we’ll start dotting the shells with nail varnish so we can identify them more positively. They can also show off to all the other snails then – “Look, I got myself some tipsy!”.

These air-breathing land slugs are almost entirely made of water and having such soft tissue means they are very prone to drying-out. That’s why they hide themselves away in damp places when the weather is hot and sunny and why they run around like lunatics in wetter weather.

The slugs we have are members of the Arionidae family commonly known as Large Black Slugs (Arion ater). They are invertebrates (have no backbone) and molluscs (the same as squid, mussels and oysters). They are between 10-15 CM in length sometimes longer. Now, I love squid and oysters so I’m wondering whether these babies might be good with a little lemon juice……?

They come in different colours (one of the problems of naming a species before you found all the variants I suppose!) and ours are mostly a deep terracotta as you can see here. Some slug-fondlers are suggesting that our orange-brown variety is actually a separate species (Arion rufus) or a sub species (Arion ater rufus) because they have slight variations in the genitalia from the black ones, as you will notice next time you cut one open and take a good look inside. Frankly, we don’t care too much and we’re just going to call them all Bogusz!

At first sight they may appear to be just a long blob of goo but take a closer look and you’ll see they have some distinct parts. For example, we know from the photograph that this Bogusz was engaged in strenuous exercise when photographed because of the open pneumostone (breathing hole). It can breath through its skin but air coming in through this hole passes into a kind of lung which increases the skin area available for breathing.

We have numerous adults and juveniles visiting us. It takes up to a year for them to reach adulthood and the adults live for about 2 years.

One thing I’ve not discovered yet is why the Bogusz pictured is carrying around some blades of grass stuck to his/her (they are both) rear end? I’m assuming he/she was on his/her way to the equivalent of a slug “bring a bottle” party. Either that or if Bogusz is in danger while traversing the very open landscape of our terrace he/she would quickly fan out the grass blades and try to hide behind them!

You can read more about Bogusz at this helpful page provided by the Caledonian Forest Information Centre.

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