Friday, July 31, 2009

Like most places in the northeastern US, Vermont has been having a very wet summer. It rains most days, and the ground rarely has time to dry out before the next rain. This is just how the slugs like it. They seem to be everywhere, doing all their usual sluggy things: eating leaves, devouring mushrooms, sitting on wet rocks, getting squished on the sidewalk. What else is there for slugs to do? This afternoon I saw a group of slugs doing something I've never seen slugs do, or even heard of them doing.

Yesterday, a couple of blocks from home, I passed a freshly roadkilled squirrel. By today, most of the carcass was gone, with only bits and chunks scattered on the shoulder. And on each little morsel sat a garden variety slug, chowing down. The bigger chunks had two or three slugs, each about an inch long, actively feeding (or at least that's what it looked like, it was hard to know for sure, as their mouthparts are underneath). There were a few slugs that had been run over as they fed, and others had come in to finish the job, and eat there recently departed kin.

I've watched slugs eat hundred of times, and it has always been on plant matter or fungi. It never occurred to me that they might eat meat. So of course I checked what Wikipedia had to say on the subject:

"Many species of slugs play an important role in ecosystems by eating dead leaves, fungus, and decaying vegetable material. Other species eat parts of living plants.
Some slugs are predators, eating other slugs and snails, or earthworms.
Most slugs will on occasion also eat carrion, including dead of their own kind."

Which makes me wonder if there was ever a B movie about giant radioactive predatory slugs.

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