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Health and Safety guide for surveying slugs

If you are going to survey your garden, school grounds or local area for slugs it is important to follow a few simple steps to keep both you and the slugs happy.

When handling slugs it is important to always wash your hands afterwards because slugs can carry parasites and types of bacteria that are harmful to humans. This can also be avoided by wearing disposable rubber gloves, wearing gloves is also beneficial as some slug species produce large amounts of mucus which can be difficult to remove. Slugs can also be collected using tweezers which may help to get a closer look at certain features of the slug.

Additionally do not eat the slugs or the mucus they produce because there is a risk of serious illness or even death.

If you want to keep the slugs to observe them for a short period of time, they can be collected into a plastic container, with small holes in the lid to allow air to circulate, however do not make these holes too big as the slugs may squeeze out (See our amazing guide to creating your own slug trap). Line the container with a damp piece of kitchen roll to stop the slugs from drying out and feed the slugs with cabbage or salad leaves. When you wish to return the slugs to their natural habitat put them back where you found them.

Creating your own slug trap

If you want to try and catch some slugs to identify and report them there is a simple slug trap that you can make.

This slug trap is designed to allow the slugs in but not out and will not harm the slugs in any way.

The slug trap should also not attract other animals so when you check your trap you should only find slugs but maybe the occasional snail.


It is also very easy to make out of everyday household items and won’t take very long to put together.

1. Find an old plastic coffee cup or yoghurt pot that comes with a lid, or a potato salad or coleslaw tub as shown in the images.

2. Cut an asterisk shape on the lid at least an inch in diameter.

3. Push the spikes inward so the slugs can climb in but not out.

4. Place some bait such as dog/cat food or Ready Break mixed with skimmed milk powder, 50/50 and mix with water to a thick consistency.

5. Place the bait in the bottom of the cup/pot and place somewhere in your garden, school grounds or local area and the slugs will come to you.


Pest Species


The Grey Field Slug (Deroceras reticulatum), a pest on agricultural land as it feeds mostly on seeds and plants above ground, and is a major threat to cereal crops.

The Brown Field Slug (Deroceras invadens)

The Brown Soil Slug  (Arion distinctus), a major pest of potatoes and attacks both leaf and root crop.

The Blue-Black Soil Slug (Arion hortensis)

The Budapest Keeled Slug (Tandonia budapestensis), will feed on newly drilled seeds underground and will badly affect crops such as potatoes. As it spends most of its time underground it can prove very difficult to control.

The Large Black slug (Arion ater), will eat seedlings on agricultural land in spring, but it is much less damaging than the other pest species.

The Large Red Slug (Arion rufus)


The Spanish Slug, Arion vulgaris

In the early spring of 2012 Dr Ian Bedford, Head of Entomology at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, noticed an unusually high number of slugs in his garden and observed they were not just eating plants but other things too such as dog excrement and dead animals. After some further research and collaboration with Dr Les Noble, University of Aberdeen, it was discovered that these were Spanish slugs, Arion vulgaris, and this was the first mass observation of this species within the UK.

The Iberian Threeband Slug (Ambigolimax valentianus)