Leopard Slugs

20 March, 2011

Leopard Slug, <I>Limax maximus</I>
Leopard Slug, Limax maximus
Image: Rudie Kuiter
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: Why is a slug eating my cat’s food?

Answer: The Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) is an introduced species of slug from the Class Gastropoda, (snails and slugs). Slugs have either lost the protective shell that characterises snails or it has been reduced to a vestige buried within the tissue. In doing so they have gained a greater rate of motion and the ability to enter smaller spaces. Slugs are hermaphrodites and possess male and female reproductive organs.

There are about 40 species of snail and slug in Melbourne with the majority of these being introduced species. These introduced species are found mainly in urban areas, particularly in damp areas associated with introduced plants. The native species usually occur on the urban fringe in areas of native bush.

The Leopard Slug is distributed throughout the south and east of Australia and is the largest terrestrial slug in Australia reaching up to 20cm in length. Leopard Slugs are pale brown to grey with black spots in lines from their head to their tail. The head area, or mantle, is spotted or marbled.  They have been found to eat anything from decaying vegetable matter to living plant material as well as cat food and pet faeces. 

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