How to identify slugs and snails

Mild, damp nights are ideal for searching for slugs and snails. Here are 12 species to look for. 

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All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole 

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1 Great grey slug Limax maximus (above)

Up to 20cm. Also called the leopard slug due to its dark blotches. Gardens and woods; can climb trees and walls.

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2 Yellow slug Limax flavus

Up to 13cm. Yellower than the similar great grey slug. Gardens, cellars and outhouses; can climb walls.

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3 Large black slug Arion ater

Up to 13cm. Typically black with an orange frill (above); brown and orange forms also occur. Gardens and woodland.

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4 Tree slug Lehmannia marginata

Up to 8cm. Like a small great grey slug. Woods and rocky places; climbs trees and rocks to graze algae and lichen.

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5 Worm slug Boettgerilla pallens

Up to 5.5cm. Greyish and worm-like. Gardens, under bricks or rubbish. Introduced; first noted in UK in 1972.

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6 Prickly snail Acanthinula aculeata

Shell 2mm (a hand lens is needed to examine this species). Unmistakable prickles. Woods and hedgerows.

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7 Crystal snail Vitrea crystallin

Shell 3–4mm. Near-circular, glassy, transparent shell with regular whorls. Woods, meadows and road verges.

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8 Rounded snail Discus rotundatus

Shell 5–7mm. Circular shell with radiating grooves and brown bands. Woods, gardens and hedgerows.

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9 Girdled snail Hygromia cinctella

Shell 10–12mm. Pale brown shell has a white ridge or keel. Plant nurseries and gardens. Introduced; spreading fast.

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10 Common chrysalis snail Lauria cylindracea

Shell 3–4mm. Commonest of several similar snails. Gardens, woods and rocky places; often under ivy on walls.

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11 Common door-snail Clausilia bidentata

Shell up to 12mm. Woods and rocky places. One of several spire-shaped snails found on tree bark or walls.

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12 Plaited door-snail Cochlodina laminata

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Shell 15–17mm. Larger and more robust than Clausilia, with ‘polished wood’ tones. Woods and rocky places.