How to Care for a Pet Garden Slug

Updated on September 8, 2013
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Livingsta is a writer who writes about anything that fascinates, provokes or interests her by putting in her best of efforts and thoughts.

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Slug is a gastropod mollusc that does not have a shell or a very small reduced size shell. They belong to the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Mollusca and Class Gastropoda. They are found on land, freshwater and sea. Slugs in general refer to the ones that live on land, the slugs found in freshwater are called freshwater slugs and the ones found in sea are called sea slugs.

Slugs are very similar to the snails except for the shells. The slugs have two pairs of tentacles, one long pair with eyes for seeing and another shorter pair for sensing smell. The foot of the slug is muscular. The slugs move by secreting a slimy fluid on which they travel to reduce friction and prevent damage to their body tissues.

A Slug
A Slug | Source

A few species of slugs hibernate during winter when the temperature is at its extreme. Slug’s body has high moisture content and hence finds it hard to survive in dry weather. They can be seen after a rain, or in damp and moist areas like damp wood or cardboards, flower pots or any place that retains moisture. Slugs come out during the night, so if you need to find one, the best time is after sunset. Slugs can burrow into the earth to moist regions during droughts.

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Slugs are hermaphrodites. They eat decayed leaves, fungus, fruits, decaying vegetable matter and some plants. Some carnivorous slugs feed on other slugs, snails and even dead slugs.

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Slugs are eaten by frogs, toads, snakes, rats, some birds, beetles etc. Their mucus has a bad taste for which reason some animals do not feed on them. They can also be slippery to hold due to their mucus secretion for birds and animals that way they can escape when attacked by some predators. Slugs can be pests in horticulture and agriculture as they feed on crops, plants, fruits and vegetables, making them not fit for sale in the market.

Now that we have seen all the basics about slugs, what they like, what they do, what is dangerous for them etc., let us look into how to care for a slug that you will be growing up and looking after as your pet.

First of all before finding a suitable slug, you need to make sure you have the requirements for your new pet. You need a home for your slug. It can be a container with a secure lid which has enough substrate for your slug to move around. You then need to have food to feed your slug and a spray bottle to spray water into the slug’s home. Once you have these ready, you need to find a slug most preferably in your garden to grow as your pet. You can look for them in wet places, under logs, leaves, plants, under flower pots, etc. They can also be seen in areas where you collect materials for compost or where you have stored compost especially outdoors.

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The container you use can be a small aquarium or another spacious container at least 20 cm by 20 cm with a lid that has tiny holes for ventilation. Make sure that the holes are not too big, as your pet can free itself through bigger holes. Then comes the substrate, the material you place at the bottom of the container for your pet to move around. Look for the area where you find your pet, and take in enough soil, leaves and decaying plant material and a few gravel. The substrate has to be moist as slugs live in moisture filled habitat. In order for your slug to be happy, moist and healthy, spray the container with enough water from time to time, without which your pet will dehydrate, become dry and eventually die. Slugs mostly feed on leaves, decaying plants, fruits and vegetables. Do not feed too much fruits as too much sugar in fruits might kill the slug. So place small amounts of these inside the container for your pet and make sure you change them every day to maintain cleanliness and avoid bad smell. You can also get pellet food from pet stores to feed your slug, as this contains all the nutrients needed for your pet. Change the substrate once a week or once every two weeks to maintain a clean habitat for your slug’s own health benefits. You can put small twigs inside the slug’s home so it can climb up and feel at home.

When handling your slug while cleaning its home, you need to hold him very gently avoiding any sharp edges in touch with its body. Use wet hands preferably to hold the slug and make sure you clean your hands before holding your slug. Do not keep the slug in direct sunlight.

Few facts about slugs:

Let us look at a few interesting facts about slugs:

  • A slug is basically a snail without a shell
  • Most slugs are herbivorous, but there are a few carnivorous slugs too
  • Slugs eat decomposed and rotting vegetation
  • Slug eggs can remain dormant for years and hatch when conditions are favourable
  • Slugs are hermaphrodite
  • Slugs can live up to 6 years if conditions are good for their survival
  • Slugs can stretch their body a lot so that they can squeeze through even very small openings
  • Slugs can grow their tentacles back if they lose them
  • Slugs do not have a backbone
  • Slugs will dehydrate and die if you put salt over them

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Chloie 14 months ago

        I'm looking for what to feed my slugs and what I need.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Hi Weekend Reader, I agree! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this.

      • Weekend Reader profile image

        Cindy D Whipany 5 years ago

        My philosophy about bugs and critters is that I won't bother them (much) if they're outside, but they're dead meat if they come into my house. Slugs insist on pushing the envelope, never quite coming inside but climbing all over the exterior walls at night. Interestingly, the paths they leave aren't quick to grow green mold (shady side of the house), so I'm thinking of developing a slime-based home mold inhibitor ... or maybe just offering them to anyone who's interested in one or more as pets.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Hello Stephanie, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts and experience. I do understand what you mean. I do like watching the slugs and the snails in the garden and I have had snails as pets. I am quite not sure about the slugs as pets either and I haven't had one! My son would love to have one!!!

        And yes, they can be serious pe(s)ts too :-)

        Have a good weekend!

      • Stephanie Henkel profile image

        Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

        Very interesting hub with lots of great information on slugs...but, sorry, I couldn't bring myself to be nice to them after I've declared war on all the slugs that have eaten my garden and flowers!

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Great, thank you Mary, will do :-)

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

        Great! I'm linking this to my Compost Hub right now. I'd be happy to have you link back.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Thank you for reading Suhail. I am glad you found it useful. What you say is right too!

        Have a great weekend!

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Hello Mary615, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. You can sure link this hub, and I think it will be a good idea to link yours to mine as well if it's alright with you. Thank you for the votes and share!

        Have a good weekend!

      • Suhail and my dog profile image

        Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 5 years ago from Mississauga, ON

        Never knew we can keep slugs as pets. I learn something new everyday on hubpages :-)

        This is an informative hub on slugs. Learnt a lot, but I will let slugs flourish in my garden, where the forces of nature provide balancing act for their population.

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

        I'm just not sure if I want a slug for a pet! I'm always happy to see them eating away in my compost. They can always have a home with me and my compost. Maybe I should link this Hub into mine about making compost in a garbage can. That way anyone wanting to capture a slug for a pet can find them eating away in the compost. What do you think about that??

        Voted UP and shared.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Wow, Sharkye11, thank you for reading and sharing your experiences. That was useful information, returning them back to the wild. Thank you and I am glad you liked it.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Hello Jeannieinabottle, thank you for reading. I am glad this was of interest to you!

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Hi Midget38, thank you for reading. I am sure you will enjoy watching them!

      • Sharkye11 profile image

        Jayme Kinsey 5 years ago from Oklahoma

        I love pet slugs. I've kept dozens. I even wrote an article about raising them on another site. They make pretty cool pets, and the best part is they can be returned to the wild if you decide you don't want them anymore. Great read!

      • Jeannieinabottle profile image

        Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

        I never thought of having a slug as a pet until now. Perhaps I will try this instead of fish!

      • midget38 profile image

        Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

        All creatures are interesting! Now, when I see a slug, I will be very sure to say hi. Thanks for sharing, Dahlia!

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Thank you Vinaya for reading. You should share your experiences when you get a slug.

      • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

        Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

        I did not know people keep slug as a pet until I read this. Next time I see a slug, I will try to make it a pet.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Hi Unknown spy, you will for sure find them in areas where you find the snails. Have a look around next time when you see snails :-)

      • unknown spy profile image

        IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

        a snail without shell! i wonder if i have seen one... i don't know for sure.. i know snails but with shells..

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Thank you Nell, I do not know if I myself would have one as a pet anytime, but it was interesting reading all the interesting facts while researching for materials :-)

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

        I would never have guessed that anyone would want to keep slugs for a pet, but after reading this they are pretty interesting little things, but I will pass keeping them though! lol! interesting hub livingsta, nell

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        That's great to hear :-) I am sure if my son gets to know about this, he's gonna get one in. Interesting though. Thank you Lane Reno for passing by and sharing your experience :-)

      • Lane Reno profile image

        Lane Reno 5 years ago

        I like snails and slugs, and tried to keep them as pets a few years ago. They fared well enough, but the inside of the terrarium glass became too quickly covered with their slime trails and I couldn't see into it from the sides. Slime or no, I think it is a good idea, and I like to see people think out of the "norm" when keeping pets.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Neither have I Kimberly before I actually started writing this hub. Thank you for stopping by!

      • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

        Kimberly Vaughn 5 years ago from Midwest

        I have never heard of a slug as a pet before but there is something kind of cute about them!

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Thank you Melissa and thank you for the vote :-)

      • Melissa A Smith profile image

        Melissa A Smith 5 years ago from New York

        Aww so cute. Voted up.

      • livingsta profile image
        Author

        livingsta 5 years ago from United Kingdom

        Aww, that's so sweet @Dragonflyfla. I can't imagine holding them in my hands. Thank you so much for reading and writing a few words.

      • dragonflyfla profile image

        dragonflyfla 5 years ago from South Florida

        This so reminds me of my daughter. Lizards and rollypolies were her capture for many years.

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