Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Damp

Following the rain yesterday, it was nice to get out again this morning for a walk and to see the wonderful colours of Autumn once more.
We were surprised to see, crossing the path, on our way back home, a Leopard Slug (Limax maximus).
A beautiful creature with it's markings which give the slug it's name. This particular specimen was rather small for a Leopard Slug at about 5" long. They can reach 8". Each Leopard Slug has a different pattern of dark markings and the animal varies greatly in colour, as do most slugs.
Leopard Slugs are known above all else, for their bizarre mating ritual. Two slugs (both hermaphrodite), court by circling and licking each other. After which, they will climb into a tree or other high area and then, entwined together, lower themselves on a thick string of mucus. They will then extrude their white translucent mating organs from 'gonopores' (openings on the side of the head), entwine these organs, and exchange sperm. Both participants will later lay hundreds of eggs.
Leaving this spectacular little animal behind (I picked it up off the path and placed it into the grass at the side to avoid a vehicle which sounded as if it was coming our way), We continued home, passing a particularly brightly coloured Maple tree.
That's it for a while as Malcolm and I are off to Mallorca in the morning. See you soon!
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