Saturday, June 7, 2008

Banana Slugs

The highlight of a cold, wet morning was discovering a banana slug on a tree next to our campsite. I had thought of them as being bright yellow - and many of them are - but this one was green, probably to blend into the dark forest vegetation. Banana slugs are decomposers (like conchs) that eat animal droppings and other dead plant material, and recycle it into soil; in the process, they spread seeds and spores. And here I thought their primary job was to entertain kids!

My son wanted to lick the slug because he had heard that it would make his tongue go numb; I had no idea why this was so, so as an unreasonable mom, I said no. But it turns out he was right, and safely so: the slug's slime contains an anesthetic which temporarily causes moist membranes (like a tongue) to go numb when they come in contact with it. I guess I should have let him lick it, then let him figure out why it worked.

No comments: