In warm weather, slugs can be found in nearly every yard across Stockton, Ca., making them a fun choice as a temporary pet. While some slugs have legal restrictions when kept full-time, your child will have fun observing them for a full day or evening. With just a few tools, your child can turn a hunt for the slimy creatures into an exciting learning experience.
‘Slugs make excellent temporary pets!‘ says slug hobbyist Tserisa Supalla, owner of velvetdragon.com. Slug keeper, Pat de los Reyes, says ‘I feed them veggies like bok choy, lettuce, spinach, carrots and apples, sometimes.’ These hobbyists prove that slug-keeping can be an exciting pastime.
Slugs, whether simply observed outside or caught and studied in your child’s free time, can make excellent temporary pets. Through research, observation and your child’s imagination, slugs are sure to become a favorite hobby in the field of invertebrate keeping. This is an activity that your child will love, no matter their age. As you and your child embark on the journey of keeping slugs temporarily, you will witness your child’s world expand- right before your eyes.
Slug hunting: What you will need
Tools for the hunt:
- Clear container with secure lid- cleaned only with water. Never use a container that has held any type of chemical
- Drill with small bit (to be used under adult supervision)
- Leaves, grass and soil from your yard
- Spray bottle with week-old water
- Thoroughly washed, cucumber slices or dark, leafy vegetables
- ¼ cup cat or dog food
- Soda bottle lid washed with water
- Note card
- Pencil and markers or crayons
- Disposable or kid-friendly digital camera (optional)
- A library card and/or internet access (optional)
- Play clothes
Step one: Before the hunt
Have your child fill their jar with leaves, grass and dirt from around your yard. Using a drill, gently push tiny holes around the top of the lid to allow for ventilation.
In the evening, place a dish with cat or dog food in your yard or flowerbed. Wet the area around the dish using a hose or sprinkler to help attract slugs.
Step two: Observing slugs outside
As slugs emerge, have your child gently scoop one up and place it in the jar. They can do this by tilting the jar, or using the lid as a scoop. Instruct your child to be very gentle as these creatures are delicate. If you allow your child to use a camera, have them take pictures to record the slug while on the ground and in the jar. Digital cameras, have a macro setting that bares the symbol of a flower. With this, your child can take clear, close-up photos.
Step two continued: Collecting slugs and feeding
Once your child has collected as many slugs as they wish, fill the bottle lid with washed vegetables and place it inside the jar. A teaspoon amount or a cucumber slice should suffice. Mist the jar with the spray bottle, and replace it’s lid.
Step three: Observe and research
On a note card have your child record their observations of the temporary pet slug, ensuring that they note the color, size and other characteristics. When finished, your child can search the internet to find scientific and common names of their slug. Although this may be difficult, your child can narrow down their search by adding the location of where the slug was found. For example: ‘Stockton, Ca brown slugs’ can narrow the search and help when performing a photo search. As they use Google or Bing, your child will also run across many websites dedicated to slugs. Social networks like Facebook offer communities dedicated to invertebrate keeping, and can help your child learn more. The following day, take your child to the library. Books such as ‘The secret world of slugs and snails: life in the very slow lane’ will also further their knowledge.
Your child’s observations
Your child can use a notecard to record their research and observations. Common names, scientific names, and the physical characteristics of the slug can be noted. As your child collects and observes several invertebrates, over time, they can create a book of their findings by binding the note cards together.
Your child’s observations (continued)
Your child can draw a picture of their temporary pet slug, and even give it a name. In this photo, markers were used to draw a slug, and the name ‘Herman’ was given.
Step four: Release the slug
After your child has caught a slug and recorded their observations, it is time to release it back into it’s home, preferably at the same time of day or night in which the slug was originally caught.. Lay the jar on it’s side, and let the slug exit on it’s own. Later on, you can clean out the jar, and keep it for the next invertebrate hunt.