A small, but well-loved member of our anipal community went to the Rainbow Bridge this week. Samantha the Christmas Slug lived with Pippin Posten and his family (his mom is Sue, who tweets as @angelicinsights) had been with her feline and human family for a year and nine months when she left Thursday to join the OTRB gang.
According to Bumblebee.org, slugs generally live around a year and a half, so thanks to the good care she received, Samantha lived a longer than average life.
Samantha came on the Christmas tree in 2009, and Sue and the gang saw her as a gift and invited her to join the family. Sue did some research on slugs trying to figure out what type of slug Samantha was and where she may have come from. The white slug from Tanzania looked like a close relation, although Samantha was brown. She also resembled a three-banded garden slug, a breed that hails from Kentucky.
According to a professor at the University of Cardiff School of Biosciences, however, the United Kingdom is the world capital of slugs, including four main varieties. Slugs like warm, but not hot, temperatures and thrive in damp conditions. The Pacific Northwest in the U.S. and Canada’s province of British Columbia also have ideal conditions for slugs. Oregon State University has some great resources on slugs in this area of North America. Two thousand species of slugs and snails inhabit the North American West (between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains), according to Oregon State.
Samantha came to her family unexpectedly, as so many companion animals do. The family experimented with foods for her, adding spinach, lettuce and even button mushrooms to her list of foods. Tser’s “Keeping Slugs and Snails as Pets” says kale is usually a favorite among gastropods (the scientific name for the group of animals slugs belong to) along with other greens, fruits, flowers and ornamental plant material. Slugs prefer to have their fruits sliced and are willing to eat plant matter that has begun to decay.
Purchase and sale of slugs in the United States is heavily regulated, so you probably won’t be able to find one at your local pet store. Instead, if you want to get to know a slug more closely, look in your garden, or check out your Christmas tree very carefully this year. Maybe it will bring a lovely slug to join your family.