Apr 17, 2009

the secret life of Sluggy

Ah, Sluggy.

Pacific Northwesterners are united by an abiding love and respect for slugs in all forms. Today, Constance Casey's "Feeling Sluggish" has given me a new appreciation for the lowly, lovely gastropod.
On the backs of many slugs, under a Sherlock Holmes-like cape of skin called the mantle, you can see a slim vestigial shell. The slug probably lost the shell in order to maneuver into small spaces. (It may also give them some extra speed: Slugs move almost twice as fast as snails.) The drawback to ditching the hard outer covering is that slugs are highly vulnerable to dehydration, so they do their foraging at night or on cloudy days. On very hot days, slugs will often huddle together in the shade of a piece of wood or a rock, flank to flank. Scientists say it's to stay cool, not to socialize. (But how do they know?)
It gets much better. Read it all, and if you see a slug today, smile.

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