13 November 2006

Funeral march for a dead slug

The desiccated remains of slugs and earthworms are common sights on sidewalks around here on warm mornings. Those are the ones that couldn't make it back to a wet refuge after the sun rose and started heating up the concrete. I have written about one such unfortunate slug here.

SidewalkLimax

During a morning walk about a month ago, I came upon this casualty (arrow in the picture) at the end of a long and twisted slime trail that was shining in the bright, warm sun. It turned out to be a Limax maximus.

What is so puzzling about this slug’s behavior during its last journey is why it didn’t enter the grassy area on the right (where the soil would have been wet and cooler) when it came so close to it so many times. Once or twice it even seems to have passed under the grass blades growing across the sidewalk.

Can they not tell that they are overheating and drying until it is too late? Or, can they not sense a wet and cool spot from a few centimeters away? Obviously, slugs did not evolve to live on wide and refugeless concrete surfaces, but I would think that air temperature and humidity would have some bearing on their direction of travel.

Maybe this one was one of the "least fit" ones that had something wrong with its senses. It is now resting in a bottle of alcohol.

13 comments:

clare said...

My bet is he was just tired of living and depressed. Now if he had been a snail he would have been able to retreat into his shell for a while and taken stock - but being a slug he had nowhere to turn.

Sometimes I think slugs are just evolutionary dead-ends.

John said...

That looks like a route out of the Family Circus.

Roger B. said...

Looks like it was on its way home from the pub.

Snail said...

It may look like a random meander to us but maybe it's a farewell letter in slug script.

Henry said...

It looks like it knew it needed to be in the grass but just couldn't find the right spot. Maybe there was something in the grass more noxious to it than a hot dry sidewalk.

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

There is probably some truth to everyone's suggestion: a drunk & depressed slug sick & tired of the Family Circus was repelled by something in the grass whilst it was leaving one last slime trail to give us humans something to think about after it was gone.

Roger B. said...

So what exactly does the slug's farewell message say?

Perhaps it's "So long, and thanks for all the lettuce."

Snail said...

So what exactly does the slug's farewell message say?

How about "My name is Limax maximus. Father ... and mother ... to ... Oh, stuff it."

Tristram Brelstaff said...

Its behaviour reminds me of a whale that insists on beaching itself. My guess is that it was ill. Maybe it was parasitised by one of Carl Zimmer's mind-manipulating parasites?

Anonymous said...

My best shot...this big guy needs, as all Limax snails, a crack under a heavy thing for enough moisture. Its large size prevents the protection via only slime cover, thus hard soiled lawn can't help. I think it was tracing where the bottom of this large 'brick' is. I sometime encounter with local and synanthropic, but always eurythermic, Deroceras slugs ended up on a crackless monument, wall etc by morning.

Parasites is another option.

ÜMİT KEBAPÇI

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

But it appears to have come out of the grassy area.

If I dissect it one day, I will look for parasites.

Anonymous said...

Rainy wet evening rush to the grassland, hide some days in soil, one nite go out to find a more humid area than concrete like soil and blast! I guess this was so. Whatever case it is it came from under a large pile of something (detritus, logs) . If you want to study intestinal parasites you have to put the animal (when fresh) in physiolgical water (etc.). They tend to be very small (get to find them in water), and sometimes numerous (in aquatics)

Nuthatch said...

"So long, and thanks for all the hostas."