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UK Nature > Slugs > Arion ater




Scientific Name: Arion ater
Common Name: Large Black Slug

Arion ater, or the Large Black Slug, measures up to about 20cm in length when fully extended, but more usually 10-15cm. Colour ranges from jet black, through chestnut and orange to pale grey and creamy white. Brown and cream forms always have an orange fringe to the sole (see photograph above).

There is no keel on the back, but the body is covered with elongated tubercles. When disturbed, the slug contracts into a small hemispherical position and often sways from side to side. Its mucus is extremely sticky. An omnivorous species, eating carrion and dung as well as vegetable matter.

It prefers rotting vegetation to living plants and consequently rarely does much harm in the garden. Largely nocturnal, but large numbers have been seen on freshly mown roadside verges feeding on the grass after daytime rain. Clusters of their pearly-white spherical eggs, about 5mm in diameter, are often dug up in the garden and compost heaps. Common throughout the UK.











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