Jul 19, 2009

Mating Quid-Pro-Quo

I really should post more about these slugs, seeing as they don't live too far from me. This one comes to us from Betsy, whose son's finger is in danger of being slimed.

Here are a couple of factoids about the Pacific banana slug.
*They are the second largest terrestrial slug (the largest being the European Limax cinereoniger -- uppity Europeans, thinking you're so clever with your huge slugs...).
*Like most slugs, they come equipped with two pairs of sensory tentacles. The upper, larger pair (called eyestalks) can perceive light, while the lower two detect chemicals. Both can be retracted.
*The breathe through a single lung.
*The slime they secrete to aid in avoiding dehydration is also laden with pheromones to aid in mating. The slimy scent is the slug equivalent of a human's 'come hither' curled finger.
* These creatures, like most (all?) slugs, are hermaphrodites, and mating consists of exchanging sperm with each other. It's a slug mating quid-pro-quo.

Thanks for the photo, Betsy. I hope your son got his nickle back. The slug seems to be taking an interest in it.


Micci said...

Wow. That's so cool! I've never actually seen a banana slug in real life, only in pictures.

Unknown said...

I can't believe something that phallic can actually exist.

Anonymous said...

Would you believe that during school trips kids are encouraged to kiss them?

Seagull Steve said...

I've lived with these little duders for much of my life, but never got the nerve to give one a kiss. I hear it numbs the lips.

m said...

Let us not forget their interesting mating habits. They are hermaphrodites, and the male organ is about equal to their body length. Sometimes one slug will chew off its partners phallus at the base. Not quite as rude as those spiders which cannibalize their partners, but still an unpleasant prospect.