The newspaper had been running a series of articles about slugs in the Home and Gardens Section — mainly about how to get rid of them. How to kill them. Our home backs onto a natural area that includes a forest, creek and pond. We’re surrounded by native landscaping. Most of the plants in our neighborhood are somewhere in this list of plants that slugs don’t eat. So, we haven’t had problems with slugs — that’s probably why I have a native banana slug as a “pet.”
Our dog and cat live inside as domestic pets family members. The birds that frequent our feeders and the fern pot slug are “wild pets.” I feed them, photograph them and observe them. Once a Band Tailed Pigeon flew into our window and passed out on the deck. Most birds that bang into the window recover after an hour or die. This pigeon youth did neither, so I put it in a pet carrier and took it to the Audubon Society. Two weeks later they gave it back to me along with another young Band Tail to release back into the wild from my house to find their flock.
A few years ago, in the middle of summer, a pair of Black Capped Chickadees raised a family of four in a 20 foot tree stump behind our house. After they left, Pileated Woodpeckers feasted on bugs in the wood, breaking down the stump until finally it crashed into the forest. Ferns and young trees now grow in the fallen stump. That’s nature — one thing leads to another — the birds used the dead tree for a nest and food. When it fell, plants grew in it. Native Banana Slugs (my slug) have their place in the cycle — they’re decomposers. They eat animal droppings and dead plant material, and turn them into soil humus. They spread seeds and spores — their defecation is a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Talk about organic!
One morning I opened the Oregonian’s Home and Gardens section and there, on page two, was a picture of a book about slugs. I tore it out and attached it to my to do list. I had to find out more about the weird little critter that lived on my front porch. In the short time I’d been paying attention to it, I’d come to see it as an individual being.
Not only did I pay extra for 2-day delivery, I tracked my order to make sure it was on its way. I checked the mailbox three times the day it was supposed to arrive. When it finally did, I screamed like a little kid on Christmas morning and right there, at the mailbox, I ripped off the wrapper and started to read.
What the Slug Says!
It seems to be warming up a bit. I feel a vacation coming soon.
*Note to readers: We’re catching up on the pet slug history. When we reach current time we’ll post a daily slug pot report – read on — it gets better. )