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National park sends out urgent warning after invasion of giant cannibal slugs
August 26, 2021
Giant “alien” slugs that can grow up to eight inches in length have been spotted in a nature reserve in southern Poland.
Great grey slugs, which prey on other slugs as well as eating decaying plant matter and fungi, are native to western Europe but are considered an “alien” invasive species in Poland.
The monster slugs are common in the UK, first being spotted by naturalists in the 17th century. However as the climate heats up they are becoming increasingly widespread around the world.
Authorities at the Tatra National Park are the latest to raise the alarm after Marek Kot, one of the park’s educational workers, found the dead body of one of the creatures floating in an ornamental pool.
The slug is almost always found near human habitation — usually in lawns, gardens, cellars or in other damp areas.
While the Great Grey Slug is generally grey, with a scattering of black spurs, some examples are brown or even red.
When chasing other slugs, the nasty-looking creatures can reach a top speed of around six inches per minute, or 0.005 mph.
In a Facebook post the park’s authorities point out that even the presence of one single slug can be a problem since slugs are hermaphrodites and can reproduce on their own.
When the slugs do breed sexually, they display a very unusual and distinctive mating method, where the pair of slugs use a thick thread of slimy mucus on which they hang from a tree branch or other structure.
After mating both slugs will go on to lay hundreds of eggs.
The slugs have no significant predators and can be particularly destructive for farmers, especially if they get into greenhouses and polytunnels.
The Tatra National Park authorities’ Facebook post note that while the slimy beasts – whose Latin name, Limax maximus, simply means “biggest slug”) – can “amaze tourists with their size and colouring”, they can also devastate native wildlife.