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Spotted Leopard Slugs

Spotted Leopard Slugs Mating, Vancouver Island, BC
Spotted Leopard Slugs Mating, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Spotted Leopard slugs can reach more than 20 cm in length. They vary in color from yellow to gray or brown with black spots on the mantle near the head and black stripes extending along the rest of the body.  There is a breathing pore on the back part of the mantle that this slug uses to breathe.

Limax Maximus, known as the spotted leopard slug, is an invasive, terrestrial member of the phylum Mollusca. Some other common names include tiger slug and great grey slug. Recognizable by its black spots and its gray body coloration. This gastropod’s native geographic distribution is in Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. These slugs are constricted to living in places where they can have easy access to water since they have a poor ability to retain water and easily dry out during the day. This mollusk is nocturnal. It has been introduced as a troublesome pest to North America, New Zealand, South America, Australia, and some Pacific Islands. This gastropod eats fresh and rotting plants, more specifically tubers, fruits, leaves, roots, bulb flowers, ornamental plants, and perennial herbs. Though these slugs are simultaneous hermaphrodites, they are unable to self-fertilize. Instead, a unique, complex, lengthy mating procession occurs in which male parts of two of these gastropods intertwine. Their penis,s get stuck together after hours of mating, at this point one male will sever the other one’s penis which has him become a female.

Spotted Leopard Slug, Vancouver Island, BC
Spotted Leopard Slug, Vancouver Island, BC

The spotted leopard slug can cover 40 meters per hour, which is four times as far as the average slug’s 10 meters per hour. It has slowly been making its way up north due to climate change. The Slug first appeared in the Lower Mainland in 1954. In 1998, it reached Victoria. It reached Sayward, Vancouver Island in 2018, and it was also reported in the Okanagan in 2019.

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