Banana Slug

Banana Slug, Vancouver Island, BC
Banana Slug, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

The Banana Slug is native to the Pacific Northwest region and can grow to a length of 20 cm, with a few giants reaching up to 25 cm,  making them the second-largest slug in the world, the Limax genus in Europe are the largest.

The banana slug’s color ranges from dead white to black, with many intermediate color hues, such as lemon yellow, light tan, and dark brown. It is often seen with black blotches or spots on its body.

The banana slug has a varied diet and will eat decaying plant material, algae, dead flesh, and animal droppings. They need a moist and mild temperature to live. They can live up to 7 years of age.

Banana Slug, Vancouver Island, BC
Banana Slug, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Robert Logan

They are named for their roughly cylindrical shape and characteristic golden yellow color. Banana slugs do come in other colors, including green, brown, black, and white. Though the less common colors may reflect the influences of diet, available light, moisture, age, health, and other factors, the basic coloration evolved to blend well with their surroundings and help slugs avoid detection by predators.

Banana slugs can only withstand a limited range of variations in environmental conditions. The climate has to be reasonably mild because severe winter cold will kill them. They need moist environments because severe desiccation can kill them. Since detritus and related organic matter provides most of their food, rotting plant and animal material must be abundant. Mushrooms are a preferred food, but they’ll consume lichens, algae, fruit, seeds, and even animal droppings. They will also eat the flesh of dead animals.

Banana Slug, Vancouver Island, BC
Banana Slug, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

All things considered, it’s easy to understand why nearly all banana slugs live on the floor of temperate coniferous rain forests and similar wet habitats within the long, narrow, mountain-backed BC coastal region that stretches along the North Pacific Coast. This encompasses a huge area extending from northern California northward through British Columbia to southwestern Alaska. Only in a few places does this range extend inland more than a couple of hundred miles, and that is only in long wide valleys.

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6 thoughts on “Banana Slug”

  1. I’ve heard their slime can take away nettle sting. I’m not brave enough to try. Any thoughts?

    1. Throughout history, slug slime has been used for minor lesions and was applied to healing cuts to lessen scarring, so I would suspect it would most likely work on stinging nettles.

  2. Are they poisonous to eat? My son ate one when he was 1yr old. I think he ate it. He was sitting in the garden with slime all over his hand. I said what is this and when he looked up at me he had slime all around his mouth! He is now in his 20s so he is fine but just wondering.

  3. I just read that the pneumostome is on the right side – so are photographers flipping their photos, do you think? I’ve seen several that show it on the left side.
    Great blog, btw!


    1. Hi Kate, the pneumostome is mostly found on the right side, but not always. the photo of the partially black one in this blog has not been flipped and it is on the left. I know that most times you are correct but l have several times seen it on the left. I hope this information helps.

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