If someone told you there was a mystical forest in the Northwest region of Untied States with yellow bananas on the floor and the bananas ate rotting stuff and then pooped material that made the forest floor more nutrient filled. You'd probably think I was crazy. What if I told you that they also produced liquid crystals! You would think I was nuts, but the story wouldn't be too far off from the truth. They are actually not bananas, they just look like bananas. Well kinda. They are Banana Slugs and they come from the Redwood Forest of the United States. The slugs make a slime that baffles scientist, which they refer to as a liquid crystal. This liquid crystal slime works like a glue and lubricant at the same time and it is highly absorbent, allowing them to suck up water as they travel along the forest floor. Banana Slugs are very cool and recognized by they bright yellow coloration, even though other coloration does exist.
Is it okay to handle a Banana Slug?
Although some hungry animals may fear the banana slugs bright yellow coloration to be poisonous and would prefer not to experiment with eating one... these slimy organisms are totally harmless. So, if you were to pick one up and hold it would have no negative effect on you, however it may have a negative effect on the slug. When slugs are scared or stressed out they will produce a thick mucous or slime. This slime is very thick and intense and can just make handling them or trying to eat them very gooey and unpleasant. The slime also has a chemical which scientists say will numb your tongue and throat, making it even harder to eat a Banana Slug. So, it is suggested to not handle Banana Slugs, but if you run into a situation where you need to handle a Banana Slug then please make it brief and wash your hands after touching them.
Are Banana Slugs helpful for the environment?
You bet your bottom dollar Banana Slugs are good for the environment. These yellow invertebrates are detritivores, which is another way of saying they specialize in eating dead organic material. The slugs travel along the floor chowing on all the decaying plant leaves, feces from animals, bits of plant material, along with other rotting things found on the floor. Once digested the slugs defecate a dark nutrient rich substance referred to as soil humus. Soil Humus is a build of organic material that is still largely misunderstood by scientists, however soil humus is an integral part of the soil and can even increase the quality of the soil. Banana Slugs are constantly generating soil humus, which means they are making the world a better place, every day.
Is it true they slime numbs your tongue?
For starters, don't even think about it. Banana Slugs do not taste like bananas at all, so licking them would be totally pointless.. right? Anyways, we highly suggest not trying to eat or lick a banana slug anytime soon, but if you did you might get a little tingly or numbing sensation in the back or your throat and mouth. The numbing sensation comes from a chemical compound found in the slugs slime and to help stop the slug's chances of being eaten, the slime will quickly numb the predators tongue making it a little bit more difficult to eat them. Imagine trying to eat a slippery gooey slug when your mouth is completely numb. Chances are you can't.
I could honestly go on and on about the Banana Slug, but we will let you guys head on over to the kids zone and do the banana slug quiz and check out the banana slug fact sheet for more details. We hope to year about your adventures down to the Redwood Forest to check these amazing yellow soil humus machines. We have also added an awesome tile to the Sempervirens Fund which is an organization that works towards the protect and restoration of the Redwood Forest. Be sure to check out their work and find out how you can help.