Slugs are a complete pain in the rear… They spend their lives working through your garden and destroying every plant they can. Many gardeners will reach for slug pellets without considering the harm they could be doing. But, are slugs pellets harmful to birds too?
Yes, slug pellets can be harmful to birds. This is why we strongly recommend not using slug pellets in your garden.
One of the mammals which feed on slugs are birds. When you use slug pellets, they do not immediately kill the slugs, but the poison is still in their system. When birds eat the same slugs, they get poisoned because of the metaldehyde in them.
As a result, the birds can die because of indirect slug pellet poisoning. This is also why slug pellets can be harmful to other wildlife such as hedgehogs, frogs and moles.
Are Slug Pellets Bird-Friendly?
Traditional slug pellets commercially available are harmful to birds and other wildlife because of the active ingredient metaldehyde. While birds may not eat the slug pellets directly, they can still consume a dead or alive slug that has eaten it.
Slug pellets are not bird-friendly. Many people invite birds into their gardens to control the slug population. However, if you have used slug pellets whilst encouraging birds to come into your garden then you’re likely to be doing more harm than good.
Although the use of metaldehyde is being banned in some countries, most slug pellets will still contain some sort of chemical to deal with the slugs. Inadvertently feeding chemicals to birds (and other wildlife) is not something you should be doing.
What is a Bird-Friendly Slug Repellent?
Many people do not wonder about the consequences of using slug pellets. However, traditional slug pellets cause damage to the garden and wildlife. Over the years, animals like birds have faced a decline in population because of the use of chemical slug pellets.
Other than traditional slug pellets, there is a friendlier option available. One of the options you can use is wool slug pellets. Wool pellets are made using sheep wool and work well against slugs.
Since the pellets are made from sheep wool, they dehydrate the slug by absorbing the slime. In addition, the pellets have ingredients like salt which also kills slugs.
Wool slug pellets are free from any chemicals that would harm birds and other forms of wildlife. The natural ingredients found in the wool slug pellets are potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus. Moreover, using wool slug pellets will not harm the environment as no chemical is seeping into the soil or burning plants.
Do Birds (and Other Animals) Eat Slugs?
This is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to using slug pellets in the garden: Birds eat slugs. Instead of using chemical-laden pellets which can then kill birds, you should instead work to get more birds into your garden who then eat slugs.
This is one of the most natural ways of controlling a slug infestation: By letting nature do its thing. Birds, frogs, foxes, hedgehogs and toads are all known to eat slugs. If you can make your garden more inviting to predators then you’ll find the number of slugs declines.
Adding places for animals to hide, ensuring you have bird feeders, a source of water, plenty of greenery and shrubs and avoiding chemicals are some of the ways you can get more animals to spend time in your garden.
Although slugs can be a real pain to have in the garden, you do have to remember that they have a purpose. They are a vital part of the food chain and, by killing them off, you are then impacting predators that are further up the chain without even realising it.
Unfortunately, one of the prevailing problems in gardens is pest attacks. One such pest which creates havoc is slugs. Many gardeners use slug pellets to kill slugs without considering the harmful effects on the environment.
However, slug pellets are harmful to birds and other wildlife. These animals can die from poisoning either by consuming the pellets directly or eating a poisoned slug.
You can, however, use woollen slug pellets, which do not have the chemical and are safe to use. The woollen pellets keep slugs away because of their rough texture and dehydrate them. It is important to resort to other methods to preserve the life of wildlife animals.
By not using slug pellets, you will not harm birds who may then end up eating slugs and dealing with the slug problem for you anyways!
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden