Roving reporter Catherine interviewed Toothy Banana Slug from a forest in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA.
I’m bright yellow and bigger than most bananas. I’m about four months old, quite early on in my life cycle. Every day is pretty much the same. I'm like the rest of the world in lockdown. Just kinda making my way through, slip sliding along.
I’m one of the slowest creatures on earth, moving only six and a half inches per minute, enjoying my life with little walks, lots of basking in the sun and looking for good food. But I’ve got to be quite careful to stay moist. It's vital to my survival and wellbeing.
Don’t mess with me
Because I’m bright yellow it’s harder for me to camouflage. And some predators might even think I look tasty, like a really good snack. So for protection I produce this really cool slime, which I keep re-applying.
I create different kinds of slime depending on the type of the activity I want to do. I have a special slime for movement and another slime to keep me safe from predators. It tastes really horrible so they stay away. My slime also acts as an aesthetic and numbs the throats of my predators. When people try to pick me up, I just numb their fingers.
Actually, I’m pretty “bad-ass.” You wouldn’t think someone who looks so innocent could do all that.
What happened to grandpa
Recently my poor Grandpa got eaten by a bird. I watched him getting rolled in the mud. It was really traumatic. The bird was trying to remove his slime. Birds are smart too. They roll us about to get our slime off.
Toothy Banana Slug speaks
The forest’s great natural decomposer
I don't think you’ll know this about me but I actually have thousands and thousands of teeth. I have a tongue called a radula, really rough like a cat’s tongue, and it has rows and rows of really sharp teeth, all different shapes and sizes. And I use my tongue to sense my environment and obviously for eating.
It’s amazing but over my lifetime I loose and regrow over 27,000 teeth – all of which help me to munch.
I love moist forest floors like conifer and red forests. I love eating fallen leaves and plants. All that tasty goodness! Fruit is probably my favourite snack. When I munch it increases soil fertility and contributes to the cycles of decomposition on the forest floor. So I'm really important for helping to break down nutrients in the soil. I help the plants to grow around me, which will later die, and so I contribute to that cycle and also to my own food cycle.
Even though I have this really key job in the ecosystem that all other plants and life rely on, I’m mostly unknown and ignored. It would be nice to get some credit sometime.
Banana Slug was interpreted by
Flo Coleman, a student of Environmental Science who started researching Banana Slugs, “I was just encompassed by their colour. I loved learning about their slime and that kind of way of slow living. I find Banana Slugs really inspiring because they’re so humble and slow. It’s something we humans can learn from.”
Flo says to Banana Slug
You’re just smashing it you little yellow rascal. Keep doing what you’re doing. And I'll do my best to spread your wisdom and stories about you. I love ya.
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Flo was invited by Catherine Archer. Flo says, “Catherine always reminds me of dance, expression, and movement. I have a gorgeous memory of a night when a group of us went round to her house. We all dressed up as who we wanted to be, turned the lights off, lit candles, and danced.”