Red triangle slug
|Red triangle slug|
|Two individuals of the green form of Triboniophorus graeffei, in the forest in Chatswood West, New South Wales. The slug on the right is starting to become active, the other is in the contracted state.|
These slugs graze on algae which grows on the surface of the smooth bark of some eucalyptus trees and on rocks. Sometimes the slugs enter houses and have been known to graze on the mold that grows on bathroom walls.
This species of slug has been found to have an unusual defensive mechanism. It can secrete a kind of sticky mucus (different from the slippery slime secreted when it moves) that is strong enough to glue predators down for days. The glue is strongest in wet conditions and becomes less sticky as it dries. The cells responsible for secreting the glue are located across the dorsal surface.
These slugs have two, not four, tentacles, and like other leaf-vein slugs, they have an indented pattern on their dorsum which resembles that of a leaf. The body length is up to 14 cm.
They are very variable in color. Individual slugs can be white, off-white, yellow, dark or light grey, beige, pink, red, or olive green. Each of the color forms have a red (possibly orange, magenta, or maroon) triangle on the mantle surrounding the pneumostome, and a red line at the edge of the foot. The texture of the dorsum of the slug can be smooth or very rough.
Juveniles lack the typical red foot border and red triangle of the adults but have three dark grey stripes running down the dorsal surface of their body and have the triangular mantle shield outlined with grey.
Research is currently being carried out in an attempt to determine if some of the different colourations may actually represent different species or subspecies.
Close-up of a pale pink individual with the pneumostome open and a narrow body, tentacles fully extended
- Humbert A. (December 31) 1863. Études sur quelques mollusques terrestres nouveaux ou peu connus. Mem. Soc. Phys. Nat. Hist. Geneve, 17, (1), 109-128. Description at page 119.
- Red Triangle Slug Fact File. Australian Museum, 2009, accessed 22 February 2009.
- Solem A. 1959. Systematics of the land and fresh-water mollusca of the New Hebrides. Fieldiana Zoology, volume 43, number 1, Chicago Natural History Museum, page 45-46
- (June) 2004. Red Triangle Slug Diversity. An Australian Museum Website, Australian Museum, accessed 22 February 2009.
- Stanisic J. 2010. Australian Land Snails Volume 1
- Stephanie Pain (July) 2000. Hate housework? Can't find a reliable cleaner? Try a slug. New Scientist Magazine, Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection, Last updated April 19, 2007. Accessed 22 February 2009.
- Le Page, Michael. "Slime-fighting slug can superglue enemy frogs to trees for daysSlime-fighting slug can superglue enemy frogs to trees for days". New Scientist. Retrieved 22 February 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- pers. comm. Michael Shea, Australian Museum
- (in German) Pfeiffer W. 1898. Anatomische und histologische Bemerkungen über Triboniophorus Graeffei Humbert. Sitzber. Ges. natf. Freunde, Berlin.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Triboniophorus graeffei.|
Photographs on the life history etc.:
- Photo of about-to-hatch eggs and newly hatched juvenile, from Bill Rudman's site
- Feeding tracks on a tree trunk
- Showing detail of the head and triangle with pneumostome open
Photographs of the various different color forms:
- A mating pair of the white form on a tree trunk
- A yellow one with magenta markings, in the contracted state
- A dark yellow or orange individual with dark red markings
- A very good close-up photo of an actively crawling greenish-grey slug
- A photo showing a wide red margin of the foot on a cream-colored individual
- A cream-colored individual wrapped around a twig with pneumostome closed
- A beige individual with orange markings
- A solidly bright red individual