Limax maximus L.   
Leopard Slug

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda – slugs & snails
Subclass or superorder: Pulmonata

British distribution: Widespread but rather local.
World distribution: Europe, Asia, North Africa, introduced to South Africa, Australasia and North America.

Limax maximus

A large slug, reaching 10 to 20 cm when extended, with distinctive black spots on the mantle, and black spots or stripes running the length of the body. It is a limacid slug (i.e. member of the family Limacidae), with a small calcareous shell enclosed by the mantle. The posterior end of the body has a pronounced dorsal keel.
It occurs in woods, hedgerows and gardens and may also make its home in damp spots in outhouses. It feeds primarily on fungi and decaying matter and, while its presence might seem alarming, it is not normally regarded as a pest species.

The mating ritual in this species is reportedly quite remarkable, with coupling taking place while the two intertwined individuals are hanging by a mucus string from a branch or other aerial structure.

Photograph: the author's garden, Paisley, Renfrewshire, 1983.

© A.J. Silverside
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