The Banana slug is the 2nd largest slug in the world - the largest in North America. Banana slugs can grow all the way up to 25cm in length. The Banana slug belongs to the Genus Ariolimax, which contains 3 species, the best known of which is the A. columbianus. The Banana was named by Augustus Gould in 1851. The Banana slug got the Species name Columbianus from the Columbia River district seeing as it's the first place where it was actually studied. Most Banana slugs can easily be identified because they look like a banana.
The Banana Slug moves about on a muscular foot that leaves a slime trail everywhere that it goes. It has a keel that is like a back bone type thing that's a ridge and it goes down the Banana Slug's whole back. The Banana Slug has a dorsal hump that has a radula on it with about 27,000 little sharp structures on it. The Banana slug comes in several different colors: Green, a real bright yellow or a white color that might or might not have black spots on it. The Banana slug has a pneumostome which is a hole on the side of it near the head that leads to a little lung. Besides leading to a lung, the pneumostome also helps with removing waste. Banana slugs can move their two optical tentacles freely to look around. The Banana Slug also uses its optical tentacles to smell things. As long as the Banana Slug's skin is moist it can breathe through its skin. The Banana slug has two sensory tentacles that it uses for feeling and eating stuff. On the bottom side of the Banana Slug's head it has a mouth and teeth. The genital opening and anus of the Banana Slug are right under the right side of its mantle. The Banana slug has a foot and the bottom of its foot is known as the sole.
Banana slugs are hermaphrodites, they have both female and male reproductive organs. At first Banana slugs are male but as they mature they develop female reproductive organs. Most of the time Banana slugs trade sperm with other Banana slugs but they have the ability to fertilize their own eggs. When a Banana slug is ready to reproduce it puts a chemical in its slime that attracts a mate to it. Before the reproduction takes place the Banana slugs both eat each other's slime. The Banana slugs then wrap around each other and their sperm is exchanged. After reproducing the Banana slug gnaws off its penis. Banana slugs can save sperm they have received for several weeks so they can finish fertilizing eggs that aren't mature yet. Banana slugs can lay up to 150 eggs each year, and up to 100 eggs at one time. The size of Banana slug eggs is about a quarter of an inch. Their eggs are laid in bunches under soil, rocks, leaves, and logs. It takes anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks for Banana slug eggs to hatch. After laying the eggs the parent Banana slugs completely abandon them.
Banana slugs live on the west coast of the United States from southern California all the way up to Northern Alaska. The place with the highest amount of Banana slugs is California. Banana slugs can be found on the ground of forest up in the Northwest. Banana slugs need a place to live that is moist so that is why they prefer forests in places like Washington. Banana slugs help decompose and break down plant pieces in forests. While eating, Banana slugs spread out spores and plant seeds on the ground. Most of the day Banana slugs spend their time in dark moist areas like under rocks, leaves or logs.
Banana slug Diet
Banana slugs are herbivores which means that they eat plants. Some of the things Banana slugs eat are: Roots, fruit, seeds, bulbs, algae, fungi, animal waste and carcasses of other dead animals. The Banana slug's favorite type of food to eat is the mushroom. The Banana slug's finds its food by using its set of optical tentacles. The Banana slug eats food by using its radula which grinds up particles of the food that it eats. Some animals that eat Banana slugs are: Crows, shrews, ducks, moles, salamanders, snakes, foxes, porcupines and even some humans eat them.
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