Slugs – The Underappreciated Gastropod

They are a bit slimy and unattractive, but that doesn’t mean one can’t appreciate a slug. These gastropods are native to our region and can grow up to 10″ long. And when it comes to keeping our parks clean, they’ll take on one of the dirtiest jobs.

Metro Vancouver park interpreter Peter Lawrance is on the lookout. For slugs. Because despite their reputation as slimy pests, these slow moving sliders can be an entertaining find for an amateur naturalist. The banana slugs you see around the Metro Vancouver region are one of the largest species in the world, growing up to 10 inches long! The belong to the family of creatures known as gastropods, which means ‘stomach-foot’. They slide along on their stomachs on a trail of slime that not only helps them move, it keeps predators at bay. After all, who wants a mouthful of slime?

“When I go searching for slugs, I like to bring along a pane of glass,” says Lawrance. “Then I can look under the glass and see how it propels itself on one big foot.”

Banana slugs aren’t likely to be the ones eating the plants in your garden. But they do help keep our parks clean. When someone forgets to pick up after their dog does its business, the slug leaps (OK, slides) into action. That’s right, slugs eat poop! A great reason to be grateful for them, even if they aren’t the prettiest creature in the forest.

Remember, wherever you are in Metro Vancouver, there’s a regional park waiting for you to explore. Visit the Metro Vancouver Parks web page for information about regional parks, upcoming events, and Park and Trail Advisories.

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