The way of the Slug.

“What is best in life?”

If you were to ask this to a Leopard slug (Limax maximus), the reply would not waiver from the 1982 film script:

conan “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.”

As said by Conan the Barbarian, such is the way of the slug.

Through the tentacles of slugs, I have witnessed love, greed, war, lust, and rampant mucus production. The following outlines my discoveries about slugs from my BIOL 326 research project on the feeding behaviour L. maximus.

  • Slugs are Fearless: The slug, whose daily goal is to eat as much as they possibly can, defecate, and maybe have some freaky weird slug sex, does not have time to hide from its enemies. In an attempt to frighten my slugs, I exposed them to odours from vicious amphibian predators and smothered their food with squished dead slug friends. Perhaps deep down, they were worried, but they just maintained that classic slug poker face and kept eating. I found this bravery truly inspirational.
  • The slug Psyche is Indestructible: I exposed my slugs to conditions of constant light and constant darkness while they were kept in little cups, and observed whether or not this changed how much they ate. Along with waterboarding, constant light is one of the CIA’s favourite torture methods. Under such stressful circumstances, and as nocturnal animals, I thought that surely slugs would eat less under constant light. This was not the case. In fact, the appetite of my slugs was impervious to all lighting treatments. I must admit that I was beginning to feel intimidated by the nerves of steel my slugs exhibited by the end of this experiment.
leopard slug

The Leopard Slug (Limax maximus):  A gallant beast.

  • Slugs take moisture seriously: To see if moisture had an effect on how much slugs ate, I fed two groups of slugs for 6 hours: one group was kept in a wet environment and the other group was kept in a dry environment. I found that the dry slugs ate much more than the wet slugs. I suspect that this is because dry slugs had to produce more mucus to moisturize their breathing organs, and this requires more energy and therefore more food. It could also be because they were trying to acquire water by eating more lettuce. Either way, the significant results of this experiment revealed that moisture is important to slugs. I’m glad for these results, because it shows that they cared about something, which redeemed my sense of camaraderie with the slugs.

Leopard slugs demonstrate a motivational lifestyle that we can turn to for inspiration. So next time you are faced with the challenges of life I urge you to ask yourself the question:  “what would a slug do?”

Just for fun, you can find more information about leopard slugs here.


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