The name’s Maximus, Limax maximus…

…and he’s coming for you!

Meet the leopard slug. This shell-less gastropod is notorious for its peculiar mating rituals (but I’ll fully cover this topic in a separate blog post) and owes its vernacular name to the attractive and highly variable patterns of black spots, blotches or stripes that adorn its body. But similarities don’t end here: like a leopard, this slug is an agile, swift and elegant hunter.

When not indulging in a snack of deliciously decaying matter or excrements, this slug is in fact a keen predator, who hunts other slugs, snails and their eggs… a benefit for all gardeners who, in return, are rarely aware of (and thankful for) this service.

Reportedly, these slugs sometimes engage in cannibalistic habits too, although I haven’t personally witnessed any aggressive behaviour between the two specimens I keep and which have so far cohabited quite peacefully.

Assume the defensive stance!

Retreat!

Night crawler: extremely shy by daylight, Limax maximus is almost exclusively a nocturnal creature – more so than Arion species, which I encounter in the wild at any time of the day. Limax maximus, by contrast, will usually spend daytime hiding in a cool, damp place which will only leave after sunset.

Like Arion and other slug species, Limax maximus will react to a threat (real or perceived) by contracting its body, but unlike Arion, leopard slugs seem faster to retreat as soon as a chance arises.

Despite its binomial name suggesting otherwise, leopard slugs are not the biggest slugs of the world – or even of their native Europe, for the matter. The biggest European representative it’s a close relative, Limax cinereoniger.

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