The slug has an impressive physiology, engages in acrobatic sex and is a handy scavenger of waste – TV naturalist Chris Packham is right to stick up for them

Slugs are much maligned. Having the temerity to wear their slime on the outside of their bodies, they are about as far removed from our notion of cute and cuddly as is possible without being tapeworms. But they are misunderstood and persecuted beyond necessity – with ecological knock-on effects for the slow-worms, thrushes, hedgehogs, badgers and other animals further up the food chain. True, some slugs will eat your plants, but naturalist Chris Packham recently made a plea for greater tolerance for the mollusc: with that in mind, here are five reasons to admire slugs:

1. Most slugs are scavengers, but that can be handy. They eat that catch-all substrate, “decaying organic matter”, which includes dead and rotting plants; leaf litter; fungoid wood; fallen fruit; animal droppings; carrion; deliquescent toadstools; and mouldering compost. If they sometimes nibble idly at a leaf, it is probably because the leaf is already damaged or diseased.

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