Limax maximus

Limax (Limax) maximus Linnaeus, 1758

Common Names

giant garden slug, great gray slug, leopard slug, spotted garden slug, tiger slug

Languages: English

Description

Behaviour

L. maximus is an aggressive slug species both in the wild and the lab, especially in high densities, often killing and eating other slugs both of their own and other species (Rollo & Wellington 1979).

Defends itself through tail-wagging (and slapping) and quick fleeing (Rollo & Wellington 1979).

Homes to shelter (Cook 1979).

Engages in a conspicuous form of mating.  A pair of L. maximus hangs from a long mucus thread, their bodies and blue-white penes encircle each other, and they exchange sperm on the ends of their penes (Quick 1960).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Look Alikes

Limax cereoniger; Lehmannia marginatus and Ambigolimax valentianus relative to juveniles

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Morphology

External:  Light brown to gray body; multiple dark longitudinal stripes often breaking into spots on dorsum; mantle marbled; tentacles red-brown; whitish sole; clear mucus (Rollo & Wellington 1979).

Internal:  Internal shell 11 x 7 mm; long, narrow, pale ovotestis; long, convoluted penis has an internal fold and a "comb" toward its apex; no rectal caecum (Quick 1960; Kerney & Cameron 1979). 

Similar to L. cereoniger but no spotted tentacles or dark outer sections of sole (Rollo & Wellington 1979), smaller tubercles, shorter keel, larger jaw and internal shell, and penis smaller and narrows toward its base (Quick 1960; Sysoev & Schileyko, 2009).

Juveniles similar to Lehmannia marginatus and Ambigolimax valentianus except L. maximus has less mucus, no lyre banding on the mantle (Rollo & Wellington 1979), and bands on the sides (Quick 1960).

Eggs:  5.0 x 5.5 mm eggs, translucent and amber(Quick 1960).

Juveniles: light gray with side bands and light pink-gray tentacles at hatching; body bands and mantle coloration appears in 2-3 weeks (Quick 1960).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Size

100-200 mm long extended (Rollo & Wellington 1979).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Ecology and Distribution

Distribution

Native to:  S and W Europe (mainly in disturbed areas to the north) (Rollo & Wellington 1979), Asia Minor, and Algeria (Thompson 2008).

Non-native in:  South Africa, N America, Australia, New Zealand (Herbert 1997), Japan (Azuma 1982).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Habitat

Outsides of buildings, waste piles (Cook & Radford 1988), forests, hedgerows, gardens (Rollo & Wellington 1979).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Life Cycle

Lives 3-4 years. Eggs are laid in early spring and fall (Quick 1960).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Trophic Strategy

Feeds on dead plants, fungus, domestic waste, carrion, and garden and crop plants (Herbert 2010). Prefers fungi and dead plants to live plants; eats oatmeal in captivity (Quick 1960).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan

Taxonomy

  • Limax cinereus Mueller, 1774 (synonym)
  • Limax antiquorum Ferrusac, 1819 [in part] (synonym)

References

Azuma, M. (1982).  Colored Illustrations of the Land Snails of Japan. Osaka: Hoikusha Publishing Co., Inc..
Cook, A., & Radford DJ. (1988).  The comparative ecology of four sympatric limacid slug species in Northern Ireland. . Malacologia. 28(1-2), 131-146.
Herbert, DG. (1997).  The terrestrial slugs of KwaZulu-Natal: diversity, biogeography and conservation. Ann. Natal Mus.. 38, 197-239.
Herbert, DG. (2010).  The Introduced Terrestrial Mollusca of South Africa. SANBI Biodiversity Series . 15,
Quick, HE. (1960).  British slugs (Pulmonata: Testacellidae, Arionidae, Limacidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Zoology. 6, 103-226.
Sysoev, A., & Schileyko A. (2009).  Land Snails and Slugs of Russia and Adjacent Countries. Sofia: Pensoft.