Oklahoma, United States
Posted Mar 25, 2014
I have a love/hate relationship with slugs. I hate finding them in my flower beds, but I love keeping them as pets.
Slugs are very misunderstood. They are not much different than the garden snail, but snails seem more attractive simply because they have a shell. It isn't the slug's fault that he is homeless. If you give him a chance, he can be a very rewarding pet.
I decided to "rescue" a tiny slug from a death-by-salt execution. Since slugs are hermaphroditic, I just chose to refer to my slug as "he" and named him Slowly.
Caring for Slowly was a breeze...after I learned one very important lesson--slugs are escape artists. Because he was so tiny, it was difficult at first to find a container that would hold Slowly securely. I finally used a gallon-sized glass jar with a piece of panty-hose banded to the top.
Setting up the slug habitat was easy. I just recreated the area where I found Slowly. I put some dirt, moss, rocks and twigs in the jar. Everyday, I spritzed the jar with water to give him needed hydration, and fed him vegetables and leaves from the plants he had been munching outside.
There was one thing that Slowly did quickly, and that was grow. Before long, he had gone from the size of an eyelash to a whopping two inches in length. I blame it on all the strawberries he liked to eat.
Not everything is rosy with this pet, of course. First of all, they aren't the most lovable or loyal pet you can find. In fact, they won't even acknowledge that you exist. You can hold them, they won't hurt you. But you should wash your hands, because your sweat can hurt them.
Slugs have to be kept at a moderate temperature, and you can't set them in direct sunlight. The moisture in the container can make it stinky if you aren't diligent about removing uneaten food everyday and replace any leaves and twigs as soon as they start to wilt. And of course, you have to clean the whole tank out whenever it becomes one big mural of slug slime.
The slime is beneficial though. In the wild, it protects the slugs. In your home, it gives you a way to track them when the escape.
If you are looking for a free, easy pet to raise, I recommend giving the slug a try. It is one of the quietest, low-maintenance pets available. Slowly never made a peep. After a few months, I suspected that he wasn't the happiest slug in the world, so I re-homed him to the woods in a moist area.
Since then, I've raised one or two every year, and they are all pretty equal. Once you tire of them, you can simply return them to nature. They have no issue with becoming "feral slugs" again. Do be careful though. If you house more than one slug in the same container, you will soon be blessed with extras. And that can be a little more slug than anyone wants to handle! Especially since each one can live for over six years!