The Banana Slug

Around my cabin there is a gardener that eats weeds. At a slow but steady pace. And dead weeds at that.

There are a few slugs that favor the steps, entry way, and pathway to the cabin. This is the second largest slug in the world, growing up to 9.8 inches (25 centemeters) long. And one of the world’s slowest animals, moving about 6.5 inches a minute. This is the California banana slug Ariolimax californicus.

Their slow pace means that are easier to sketch than the other animals around the cabin such the hyperactive Wilson’s warblers or the violet-green swallows that are always on the wing or the common mergansers that seem to disappear underwater as you are about to put pencil to paper. When sketching banana slugs you can take your time, they’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.

As I was going for a noon time walk, the local banana slug was climbing up the front steps, so I headed back in and got my sketching things. Oddly enough, the slug was still where I found it (banana slugs are hermaphrodites and prefers the pronoun “it”).

A banana slug on the front steps. I sketched this slug.

I am an alumni of the University of California at Santa Cruz. This youthful university (founded in 1965) was built on land that Henry Cowell donated to the state of California; a land in the moist forests of Douglas-fir and coast redwood. This is the ideal habitat for the banana slug.

The University’s chancellor supported name “Seal lions” as the mascot of the University but this was slowly overruled (in slug time) by a strong and determined student body that eventually caused the banana slug to be adopted as the UCSC’s mascot.

Now when I return from my walk, I always look down as I head towards the front steps and I see the two banana slugs on their patch. One is about twice the size as the other and I’m not sure what the relationship is between the two but I am glad to see them, slowly munching away at the weeds that line the pathway.

Fiat Slugs!

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