There are around 30 different species of slug in the UK, which provide a food source for other predators such as birds, hedgehogs and even toads. Slugs have an important role in the ecosystem and are key composters which help to break down decomposing vegetation. However they are notorious for being able to chomp through garden plants and vegetables in a very short period of time. They do this using their teeth!
Slugs average approximately 27,000 ‘teeth’. They need so many teeth because instead of chewing their food, they have a ribbon-like flexible band of microscopic teeth called a radula. This acts like a circular saw — cutting through vegetation and eating it as they go. When their teeth wear out new rows of teeth move forward and replace them.
Slugs are hermaphrodites and they have both male and female reproductive systems. They are able to reproduce themselves without the need of a partner. In fact, one slug can lay up to 400-500 eggs in a year which can remain in the soil for years and hatch when the conditions are right.
Slugs produce slime which enables them to slide along the ground. The slime also enables them to glide over broken glass or razor blades without damaging themselves. They can use the slime as a trail to find their way back to their homes, even being able to tell their own slime apart from other slugs and snails!
Research has shown that the average British garden has around 20,000 slugs. However 95% of slugs are found underground eating seeds, roots and laying eggs.