It might not seem like the an 8 inch long leopard slug could put on an amazing sex show. After all, they can be real slimeballs. But actually, these hermaphroditic gastropod mollusks’ sexual behavior is quite… well… beautiful.
The foreplay for the fertilization, which consists of a lot of licking and nibbling, can last up to 2.5 hours. That’s about 793 days in slug time. And when it’s all over with, both slugs (slowly) retreat to cold and damp hideaways in order to lay their respective sets of eggs.
If you’re thinking about eating these monster slugs, please don’t. If ingested, leopard slugs can cause a mean case of the meningitis. Evidence here: http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/health/HealthRepublish_969551.htm. An Australian man ate two on a college dare. It turns out they make your brain swell to the size of a swimming pool.
Eat it, freshman.
See that hole in the above picture? As a descendant of aquatic ancestors, leopard slugs (like all land slugs… and snails) have adapted to breathing air by developing a hole on their side which expands and contracts to take in oxygen. The hole was formed as their prehistoric gills disappeared to make way for a fancy set of new, shiny lungs.
(Posted by Andrew on behalf of Katie Thompson, Lowly Intern)