Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hunter S. Slug

Much the same way I found the Astingy Leaf Chameleon, I was searching ARKive for some good invertebrates. I could probably spend a good month on animals picked solely from that section, but the two that stuck out the most were the Pondoland Cannibal Snail and the Snake Skin Hunter Slug1. Since I was having problems deciding which one to write about, I asked a friend who randomly picked the slug. Don’t worry, I’m sure the Cannibal Snail will show up soon.

Image by Dai Herbert via ARKive

The Snake Skin Hunter Slug (Chlamydephorus dimidius) is everything its name suggests2: dark grooves on the skin give it a scaly appearance; it is a vicious predator, eating snails and millipedes, and possibly earthworms. How it hunts, I can’t find, but I’m sure any videos of the kill would be ripe material for Animal Planet. This hints at a serious problem with the Hunter Slug. There’s a lot unknown about it. So, we know it lives in the forests of the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, and it’s carnivorous. Other than that… there’s not a whole lot. How and when they reproduce, who knows? What are its major predators? No idea. The Hunter Slug’s only protection come from the fact that they live in a few protected areas.

I know this is a short post, but this lack of information is a big issue for literally thousands of species like the Snake Skin Hunter Slug. Scientists simply don’t know enough about the organism to properly protect it. The only way to help these species is to learn more about them. This is my form of activism. If I can teach people about things that need their help that would otherwise go unnoticed, I feel that I have done my job.

1Others include the Hairy Marron, which is a fuzzy crayfish, and the Poor Knight’s Weta, which is a giant cricket-like thing.
2Unlike some, such as the Puritan Tiger Beetle, the Hermit Ibis, or the Three-toothed Snail.

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