Sorry, But This Fact About Slugs Will Ruin Your Day

I'm haunted beyond words.
Christopher Laszlo Bonis / 500px via Getty Images

Slugs are fascinating. Did you know you can catch them with a melon? Cool! They can even find their own way home using the scent from their slime trails (less cool, but you can’t say it isn’t impressive!).

Another fun fact? Their four tentacles are used for different jobs. ’Two are designed for seeing and smelling, and two for tasting and touching,” shared A-Z Animals.

Most of the legless legends aren’t even bad for our gardens – and the Royal Horticultural Society decided to do away with slugs’ status as pests last year, because of how good they are for the environment.

You might have guessed, though, that this article is not about the more positive aspects of slugs. Instead, it’s about a mollusc-based fact that is darker, more disturbing, than the rest.

So, I hear you ask, what possible offence could the banal beasts have caused me? What is it about their slimy-but-fascinating physiology that could have so disgusted me, a writer who has researched diarrhoea so often that I can spell it correctly the first time around?

Reader, slugs have, on average, twenty-seven thousand teeth.

That is a two, a seven, and three zeroes’ worth of God’s own gnashers per slug.

What? Why?

Exactly. I wondered the same thing. Original sin? Who knows.

Well, apparently the Natural History Museum does. Perhaps as payback for the many atrocities humanity has plagued upon the natural world, the museum published the article “A Microscopic Look At Snail Jaws” (which, you’ll be glad to hear, includes slugs too).

While snails have ‘thousands’ of teeth that form a horrifying band (I beseech you to look at the article for its brain-alteringly creepy images), the 14,000-or-so strong sets have nothing on slugs’ countless canines.

The flexible band onto which both species’ teeth are placed is called a radula. “The radula scrapes up, or rasps, food particles and the jaw cuts off larger pieces of food, like a leaf, to be rasped by the radula,” shared the Natural History Museum (without anyone’s consent).

Here’s one of ’em in use (hope you’re not eating):


The Mystery snail radula is so awesome to watch in action #throwback #mysterysnail #snailtok #fishtok #plantedtank #teeth #radula

♬ Forever - Labrinth

In fact, The Smithsonian reports that the teeth of marine snails, commonly called limpets, are the strongest known natural material on Earth – beating titanium and diamond.

I’m starting to think there’s something behind the saying “ignorance is bliss”...