Are Slugs poisonous to touch?


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And now it’s time for Who’s Smarted. Hey smarty pants, you mind handing me that shovel? It’s a beautiful day and I, your trusty narrator, thought I’d do some gardening. I gotta say, I just love being out in nature with all the creatures that help my flowers and vegetables grow.

The butterflies. The bees. The ladybugs. And what’s this? Oh no, it’s a slug. Yikes. I can’t have a slug in my garden, smarty pants. It’ll eat everything. I’m just gonna pick him up with my garden gloves on because slugs have parasites and relocate him out of my yard.

Eww, he’s so slimy. Sayonara slug. Wait, don’t fling me. Hey, it’s a talking slug. Please, I don’t want to move. I like it here. Yeah, but it’s my garden, my rules. Time to go, Sluggo. Hey, how’d you know my name is Sluggo?

Also, can’t I at least plead my case? Fine, give me one reason I shouldn’t toss you from my garden. I’ll give you several. For one thing, I don’t just eat flowers and veggies. Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom.

I also eat all the gross stuff, like rotting leaves, decaying plant matter, and my personal fave, animal droppings. I can eat 40 times my body weight every day. And by eating all that stuff and pooping it back out, I help refresh your soil.

Also, even if you throw me out, you’ll never get rid of all of us. The average garden can have as many as 20 ,000 slugs in it. At any one time, you’re only seeing about 5% of us, because the other 95% are underground.

OK, Sluggo. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll let you stick around, if you promise to spill your slimy guts about everything that me and the smarty pants want to know about slugs. Like what’s the difference between a slug and a snail?

Why are slugs so slimy? How do slugs defend themselves when attacked? And is there really a slug that weighs as much as a… dog? Deal! Great! Get ready to slug it out, smarty pants! It’s time for another whiff of science on…

Who smarted? Who smarted? Who smarted? Is it you? Is it me? Is it science? Or history? Listen up! Everyone, we make smarting lots of fun on who smarted! Okay slugo, let’s get one thing out of the way.

How are you, a slug, different from a snail? I mean, besides the obvious fact that snails have shells to crawl in. Um, yeah. That’s about it. Really? We’re both mollusks, which is a type of soft -bodied animal that lives in a damp or watery environment, and sometimes has a shell.

Ever heard of an octopus? Yes, slugo, I’ve heard of octopuses. We even did an awesome episode of Who Smarted on octopuses. I don’t live under a rock, you know, unlike slugs. Alright pal, no need to get an attitude about it.

Sorry, I was hoping to get some gardening done, not converse with a slug. But please, as you were saying, an octopus is a mollusk too, so are clams and oysters. But slugs and snails belong to a special group of mollusks called gastropods, which mostly live on land.

Hmm, what do you think the word gastropod literally means, smartypants? Is it A, stomach foot, B, head finger, or C, nostril thigh? The answer is, stomach foot. What does that mean, Sluggo? Is your foot a stomach, or is your stomach a foot?

My stomach, actually, pretty much the entire underside of my body, is a foot. And that big muscle is how I get around. Check it out. When I want to move, I contract and relax my foot muscle underneath me.

And that makes a wave from the back of me to my front, which propels me forward. See? Um, propels might be too strong a word. Are you implying I’m slow? Well, you’re not exactly speedy. Fair point. Slugs have a top speed of a blazing 0 .18 miles per hour.

Your average turtle moves 10 times as fast. It takes 33 hours to walk a mile, if I stay really focused. In fact, that’s why we’re called slugs. It comes from an old word that means lazy person, which I find incredibly insulting.

Yeah, you’re not lazy, you’re just… In no particular hurry. Exactly. You know, I think I’m going to shrink myself down to your size, Sligo, so I can get a better look at you. I’ll just open my Shrinkify app.

Whoa! What are those long, pointy things sticking out of your head? Tentacles! As you can see, I have eyes at the tip of each one, and then I have these two other tentacles pointing toward the ground.

I use those for smelling, and feeling my way around. Interesting. Let’s say you do come across one of my tomato plants, Sligo. What then? I assume you have a mouth under there somewhere? Of course, but I guarantee it’s unlike any mouth you’ve ever seen.

Take a wild guess at how many teeth I have. What do you think, smarty pants? Does a slug have 27 teeth, 1 ,000 teeth, or 27 ,000 teeth? Believe it or not, the answer is 27 ,000 teeth. Oh, yeah. My teeth are actually called denticles, and they’re so small, you can only see them with a microscope.

They make up my radula, which is basically a ribbon of teeth I use like a saw to cut and grind. Things like these leaves, so I can eat them. Wow! Tentacles and denticles! Pretty cool, Sligo. I also have a pneuma stone.

That’s this hole in my side I use to breathe through. Oh, like a whale’s blowhole. Same idea. Don’t take this the wrong way, Sligo, but what’s that weird thing on your back, just behind your head? It kind of looks like you’re wearing a…saddle?

That’s called my mantle. It’s the closest thing I have to a shell. In fact, some types of shells… slugs still have a bit of shell inside their mantle. It’s kind of a leftover from slugs evolving from snails over millions of years.

I can even retract my head into my mantle for extra protection if I need to. But it’s nowhere near as hard as a snail shell. Huh, there’s a lot more to slug anatomy than I thought. No offense, but from up high, you kind of just look like a fat worm.

Uh, trusty, you can’t say no offense. Then call me a fat worm. Sorry, that was rude. Excuse me a sec, I just want to water that plant behind you. Ew, what did I just step in? That would be my slime trail.

So much for my new sneakers. Pro tip, always garden in boots. Hey, smarty pants, what do you think a slug secretes from its foot to create a slime trail? Is it water, mucus, or a hair styling gel? If you said mucus, nice.

I actually make two different kinds of mucus. A thin, watery kind, and a thick, sticky version. The thick, sticky stuff is what covers the whole outside of my body. Releasing a trail of slimy mucus not only makes it easier for me to move, it protects me from rocks, twigs, and other sharp objects in my path.

Really? In fact, my mucus is so protective, I can crawl over a sharp knife and not cut myself. Wanna see? No, we’re not playing with knives, Sluggo. But I believe you. Is that all your slime trail does?

No, I use my slime trail to find my way back home. And Slugs use each other’s slime trails to identify each other or track down possible mates. That’s because each slime trail is as unique as a human fingerprint.

No way. Way! But do you know the most important reason Slugs makes slimy mucus? Any guesses, smarty pants? It’s to keep our bodies moist so we don’t dry out. Slugs are almost 90% water. For us, drying out is bad news.

I don’t even like going out on windy days because the wind can dry me just like those hand blowers in public restrooms. No wonder Slug spends so much time underground. Yep. My favorite place to hang is a cool underground tunnel or under some leaves or a nice damp log.

And I try to stay in when the sun is out and only go out at night. Or right after it rains, of course. It’s all making sense to me now. So are all Slugs around the same size as you, Slugo? Which is less than an inch long?

Yeah, we’re not too big. It takes nine garden Slugs to weigh as much as a penny. But there are bigger Slugs like the Spotted Garden and Giant Slug, which are three to seven inches long. Ooh. But there’s something even bigger.

Oh, yeah? Oh, yeah. In fact, I’ll take- them right now. You’re not gonna believe your weird -looking human eyes when you see him. Don’t you move, smarty pants. We’re going to meet the largest slug on the planet right after this quick break.

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I also put the link in the show notes. Happy summer, happy Father’s Day, and happy eating! Now back to Who’s Smarty? Smarty Pants, my new friend, Sluggo the Slug, is about to introduce us to a truly gargantuan gastropod, a stunningly mammoth mollusk, the largest slug in the world!

Meet Cecil, the sea slug. Sup, in case you’re wondering, I’m a type of sea slug called a black sea hare. My friends and I mostly live off the coast of California and northern Mexico. Wow, Cecil, how big are you?

When I’m fully extended, I’m a little over three feet long. Last time I weighed my Myself, I was 31 pounds. Whoa. That’s as big as a dog. You ate more than a bicycle. I guess you don’t have to worry too much about other creatures trying to eat you.

Yeah, that’s not really a problem for me. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Slug -O here. Regular slugs have to worry about all kinds of predators. That’s right. Luckily, I’ve developed some defense mechanisms.

For example, if I’m attacked, I can contract my body until I’m tiny and round, like this, which makes me harder to grab. And some kinds of slugs can escape from predators by using something called autotomy.

What do you think autotomy is, smarty pants? Is it the ability to, A, become invisible? B, expand to 30 times your normal size. Or C, disconnect. One of your own body parts? If you said C, disconnect!

You’re right! That means if a predator grabs onto you, you can just release your tail and… and… run away? At .03 miles per hour. Well, yeah. But we can also stretch ourselves out to 20 times our normal length.

Which makes us super flat and skinny. This makes it possible for us to wriggle into the tiniest of holes. Brilliant! So, who are your predators? You name it! Almost every animal you can think of loves to eat slugs.

Frogs, lizards, snakes, beetles, raccoons, possums, salamanders, and… Oh! Nice bird noise, trusty! Um, that wasn’t me! Look out! Yikes! That hawk just snatched Slugo! Cecil, what do we do? Don’t worry, trusty.

He’s got this. I’m back! What’d I miss? Slugo! How’d you get away? I slimed him! I’m covered in mucus, remember? You try keeping a slippery, wiggling slug in your beak while you’re flying 50 miles per hour.

Not to mention, my slime tastes pretty gross. Well, I’m glad you’re back. Hey, look at this guy! One minute he was ready to throw me away, and now… Hey, just do me a favor and take it easy on my vegetable garden, would ya?

Deal. I’ll stick to the yucky stuff. Like animal droppings. Perfect. Yo, Cecil, I’ll race you to those rotting strawberries. You’re on. This is some race. I can time you with a calendar. No offense. A big ol’ shout out to my buddy Bryce in Wernsburg, Missouri.

We’re so glad to hear that Who Smarted helps you learn things in a fun way by using jokes and stories. You’re an awesome smarty -pants, Bryce. Keep up the good smarting. This episode’s Slugs was written…

by Steve Mollusk Melcher, and voiced by Michael Ursu, Salmon Trader, and Jerry Kolber. Technical direction and sound design by Josh Hahn, who smarted is recorded and mixed at the Relic Room Studios. Our associate producer is Max Mantle-Komaski.

The theme song is by Brian Slime-Trail Suarez, with lyrics written and performed by Adam Slugs -Davis, who smarted was created and produced by Adam Tex-Davis and Jerry Kolber. This has been an Atomic Entertainment production.

Who smarted? Star Glo! Star Glo!