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Common name: European Black slug

Scientific Name: Arion ater

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Gastropoda

Order: Stylommatophora

Family: Arionidae

Genus: Arion

Species: A. ater

Most people do not know that slugs have teeth or can even be carnivores. When this animal is young it can be anywhere from one inch to less than an inch but matured it can grow up to six inches long. This slug as you could probably guess by its name is black, though some have been found to be white and brown. Though when it’s born it is orange. Although slugs are thought to be shell-less snails they have a disc-like shell in their mantle.

 

European Black Slugs range mostly from Northern Europe to the Pacific-Northwest. They prefer grassy fields, crops of vegetation, and are strictly terrestrial. They are usually found in moist cool soil.

 

These slugs rely on the cool moist dirt of the night to feed. Their appetite mostly consists of fungi and plants but sometimes worms, insects, and decaying vegetation and feces. These slugs do not have a lot of natural predators so they don’t really have to compete for food. These slugs don’t have very many enemies because they leave a trail of mucus behind when they move that animals find distasteful. Some of these few enemies are the hedgehog, badger, shrew, mole, mouse, frog, toad, snake, carnivorous beetles, and some birds.

 

 Even though they have both male and female reproductive organs they do cross-fertilize when there is a mate available. After they can lay anywhere from20-50 eggs. These eggs will hatch in about six weeks. This slug population is about 15 million strong. In these conditions mild, frost-free winter and a damp, warm summer this population can increase. This animal so small but great in numbers is one of the most destructive slugs. Slugs can eat twice their body weight and can lay up to 100 eggs. They do this damage by eating the farmer's crops and eating gardeners plants. Their population is still growing.

 

Author: Ryan L.

Published: 02/2008

 

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_slug http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arion_ater.html http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=476832&in_page_id=177 Picture Credit: Dr. Alan J. Silverside www-biol.paisley.ac.uk

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