Slugs Project


Slimy, squishy, gross, sticky and cute are all words that my classmates and I have used to describe slugs and they are all accurate descriptions. For a scientific definition we can call any member of the class gastropoda, that lacks a shell or has a very small shell, in relation to its body size, a slug. Slugs are not monophyletic. All slugs have one foot that takes up a majority of their body. There are many varieties of slugs out there but all these explorations are best done with a slug that you or your kids found yourselves!


Project Genesis (not the Star Trek thing)

You may be wondering how a burgeoning teacher came to have a fascination with slugs. My professor in my science education class had decided to forgo the typical practicum requirement and instead decided that the College of Education should put on its own science. My classmates and I were given a choice of topics and given my recent summer in washington I knew that slugs were going to be my thing. After a couple days of searching through the biology dept. for spare slugs and looking at science supply websites I went to our campus green house which provided me with about twenty five 2cm to 3cm garden slugs. In a couple of weeks a classmate of mine heard what I was doing she offered to get me some banana slugs from Santa Cruz, CA and that's how I came into possession of four Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. The rest was caring and curiosity.

Slug Basics

Where to Find Them

Slugs can be found most places in the united states where they can be assured of vegetation and a moist enough environment so they don't dry out. Slugs are mostly nocturnal so hunting for them in the evening and morning should increase your chances of finding them. Slugs prefer to stay under cover during rain but afterwards they are likely to come out in force. Here are some good places to start:
* In backyard gardens
* Under the leaves of plants
* Under rocks
* The underside of tarps or buckets
* If you dig up about 6in into the earth you can find some slugs that have buried themselves to preserve their body moisture

* In green houses
* Under the leaves of plants
* The root system of potted plants
* Under tables

Where to Keep Them

I have had trouble finding websites that recommend any particular type of housing for slugs save for the fact that they, like many mollusks, avoid copper. I've seen a few accounts of children keeping slugs in tupperware with holes poked in it. I personally keep my four banana slugs is a critter carrying tank from Petsmart .
Thing to keep in mind when designing a habitat for your slugs

  • Can your slugs escape?

Slugs have almost no bones in their body and as a result can flatten or stretch their bodies into incredibly thin. More than once I have woken up to a banana slug sliding through a space in their tank about a half a centimeter.

  • Will you Slugs be able to get air?

Slugs are organisms that need to breath oxygen to survive, like humans. Their tank needs to have some form of air circulation. its can be as small as a couple large holes punched in tupperware to tope to a tank with openings.

  • How well will your tank keep the air humid?

I have noticed that the plastic tank that I keep my banana slugs in doesn;t retain moisture that well. The sides are plastic so they aren't conducive to condensation on the insides and the slots onto creat too good of an airflow. I've noticed that glass tanks seem to be better at retaining moisture.

What to Feed Them

Slugs are a type of organism called detrivores, that means that they consume decaying organic matter and serve as the decomposers in many ecosystems. That being said slugs pefer to eat plant that is soft enough for their mouths to dig into. Flowers, vegetables and fungi are all common foods for slugs to eat. A strategy that has worked well for me is to find one of two food that I know my slugs will eat (spinach & mushrooms) and keep those on hand while testing other foods out.

  • WARNING: when giving slugs food make sure that it is well washed to wash off any pesticides that are often designed to specifically kill slugs.

Foods I Know They Like

I know that my banana slugs enjoy a couple food in particular

  • Spinach leaves
  • White mushrooms uncooked
  • dandylion flowers
  • Cellery- though I'm not whether they can eat it easily due to its toughness


kissing the slug

Slugs have a special defense mechanism that helps them avoid being eaten by some of their predators. Slugs have a very active skin that secretes a mucous that contains all sort of chemical signals for their fellow invertebrates to pick up on. Their skin also secretes an anesthetic that predators dislike. Somewhere along the line kissing banana slugs became a fun tradition for children. as you puts your lips to a slugs the anasthetic agents ussualy makes lips tingly.


Telling Slugs Apart

As I was observing my slugs

Points of Integration

Social Studies

  • Invasive Species

World Cultures

  • religion around the world
  • Slugs as food


  • Find poems or literature about slugs
  • Write your own material about slugs


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