Background information on the Kerry Slug
The Kerry Slug (scientific name: Geomalacus maculosus) was first discovered beside Caragh Lake in Co. Kerry in 1842. It is an easily recognizable, spotted, medium sized slug (up to 9cm in length) which is unlikely to be confused with any other species. Specimens can be brown with yellow spots (see photo) or black with white spots (see photo).
Unlike many other slug species, the Kerry Slug is not regarded as a pest and is associated with wild habitats away from humans. In Ireland this invertebrate (no backbone) is protected under the Wildlife Act 1976 and under the EU Habitats Directive (as an Annex II and Annex IV species). In addition, seven Special Areas of Conservation have been designated for the protection of the species.
Where is it found?
The global distribution of the Kerry Slug is Ireland, Spain and Portugal and although the species has been reported from France, its presence there has never been confirmed. In Ireland, the slug is restricted to west Cork and Co. Kerry.
Here it is found in two habitat types, oak dominated woodland and unimproved open moor or blanket bog. Within these habitats it is only present if there are sandstone outcrops and boulders largely bare of vegetation except for lichens, mosses and liverworts on which the species is thought to feed.
When is the best time to spot it?
The best time to find the Kerry Slug is on wet, cloudy days when specimens are often seen crawling over bryophyte or moss-covered tree trunks or sandstone outcrops in suitable habitat. During sunny, warm weather the Kerry Slug takes refuge under bryophytes (esp. mosses), in cracks on sandstone boulders and behind the vegetation at the base of sandstone rocks. Surveys at dawn, dusk and during the night in Spain have also proved successful.
How will I know if it is the Kerry Slug?
The Kerry Slug has a number of characteristics which make it relatively easy to identify. Firstly it is only found in oak dominated woodland and unimproved open moor or blanket bog in Co. Kerry and west Cork. Secondly, specimens are either brown with yellow spots (typical of woodland specimens) or black with white spots (typical of peatland specimens). Lastly, when disturbed, the slug curls itself up into a defensive ball (see photo). We encourage observers to submit a photograph with their records.
Attach photos to emails and send to info[at]biology.ie, (just remove the square brackets).
The aim of the Kerry Slug Survey
The aim of the survey is to accrue modern records for this internationally important invertebrate with the overall objective of producing an up-to-date distribution map. In Ireland, there are five 10km grid squares where the species has not been recorded since pre-1950 and other areas where the last records are pre-1980. The survey will help to address these important