How slugs fight against dehydration

I have put nine Tandonia budapestensis into fully transparent plastic terrarium with internal dimensions: 17 cm long, 8.3 cm width and 2.8 cm high. This transparent box (or any other transparent terrarium) seems to be useful for watching the behaviour of gastropods. They received a piece of skin of watermelon as a food source. They also received some water from water sprayer, but not too much because I was afraid of drowning of slugs. Approximately only centre of the box was sprayed once. There was nothing else in this terrarium. No substrate except of some small pieces of soil that were stinged to slug’s bodies during transport. No ventilation, but probably no loss of water in this closed artificial environment.

About one day later they were “sleeping” and they were clustered like this:

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Tandonia_budapestensis_2

Two of them are not on the photo, because they were on the cover. Those two were also next to each other.

 

Similar photo of aggregation of slugs (of Limacus flavus) is on the page 470 in the 2001 book The biology of terrestrial molluscs.

 

This aggregation of slugs is explained as behaviour against loosing of water in drier environment. They are tightly packed to each other and they reduce the area of evaporation. (Snails do not do that, because they can retract to shells.)

 

I have taken the first photo at 18:57:33 very soon after the removing the cover of the terrarium. All slugs were sleeping and one was eating. Slugs have swiftly found out, that something has changed. After 1 minute 22 seconds (at time 18:58:55) they started to extend their tentacles and started to move.

 

Next days they did not make similar aggregation. It seems, that instead of that, they “discovered”, that they can be sitting on the watermelon and receive water through the body wall.

 

You can not see such behaviour if you will keep one, or two slugs in the terrarium.

When I have started to doubt that they will agrregate again and six days later after taking the first photo, I have taken these photos:

Tandonia_budapestensis_3
Tandonia_budapestensis_4
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Photo of the day (5): Arion fasciatus

Arion_fasciatus

Arion fasciatus lives in large part of Europe in open anthropic habitats such as gardens. It is quite easily distinguishable, because it has a yellow band bellow a dark band on each side.

 

I have collected this slug and placed it in the terrarium (a glass) with a piece of bark. After 24 hours this slug has taken this position as is on the photo instead of trying to hide in some crevice of the bark. It was “sleeping” like this and it did not move during the the photographing, that have taken 5 minutes. That is ideal cooperation.

I do not know the length of this contracted specimen, but the extended body of this specimen is 36 mm. While this species can reach the body length up to 50 mm.