Exeter researchers have been up all hours - finding out just how far the average slug will go on a night out.
The University of Exeter have conducted a scientific experiment about the distance slugs and their snail cousins travel in and around the average garden in one night.
They tracked 450 snails using UV paint and LED lights and monitored them over 72 hours in the dark for their movement and they filmed them doing it.
The researchers, led by Dr Dave Hodgson, Associate Professor of Ecology at the University of Exeter found that snails will travel distances of up to 25 metres in a 24-hour period, and seek out areas of shelter, such as long grass, trees or objects, including dogs’ toys, left in the garden overnight.
The four university researchers also discovered that snails move in convoys, piggy-backing on the slime of other snails to conserve energy
. It is thought that a snail could use up to 30 per cent of its energy in slime production alone.
The researchers were not mollusc voyeurs but had a serious purpose behind their investigations.
Commissioned by the Be Lungworm Aware campaign the study is to help dog owners, whose pets are at risk from a potentially fatal parasite spread by slugs and snails, the lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum.
The parasite is contracted when dogs accidentally swallow even the smallest slugs or snails,
So if you’ve ever been curious about what the snails get up to in your back garden now’s your chance to find out…