Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Eating (Low-fat, High-carb) (Gag) Slugs (for the Week of May 11, 2008)

May 11, 2008

Q. Dear Twig: What eats slugs? Do you eat slugs? I don't eat slugs.

A. Eating slugs? The thought makes most of the humans I know gag.

But actually there are recipes. I found one, for instance, for, yum, slug fritters.

And check this out from the New York Times: California's giant banana slugs, the size and color of their namesake, "were part of the diet of the Yurok Indians ... and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries of German immigrants, who gutted them like fish and fried them in batter."

Me, nein, I eat slugs not. I'm a walkingstick. I eat only plants.

But frogs, toads, snakes and box turtles, among others, eat slugs. So do certain birds and beetles.

A study tested slugs and fish as foods for two kinds of garter snakes. "Slugs," it reported, "have almost no fat content and only half the protein content of fish and contain significant amounts of carbohydrates, largely in the form of mucus on the surface of the body."

Mmm, high-carb mucus ...

Hungrily,

Twig

P.S. Details on fighting, not eating, slugs: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2010.html.

Notes:

The link is to an Ohio State University Extension fact sheet called "Slugs and Their Management." "These slimy creatures," it notes, "have big appetites for a wide variety of plants found around the home."

Find the New York Times article, "Russian River Journal; Courage is an Ingredient at Banana Slug Festival," March 22, 1989, at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=travel&res=950DEFD6113EF931A15750C0A96F948260.

The slug/fish/snake study was in The Journal of Experimental Biology, August 2006.

A probably superfluous warning: Don't eat raw slugs if you live in the South Pacific. Some slugs there have a parasitic worm. The worm can give the raw-slug-eater a bad or fatal brain infection. Ga!

About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly feature for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at, to and for a 4th-grade reading level.

For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, knebusch.1@osu.edu, (330) 263-3776.

Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch
Source(s):