Can Slugs Swim?

By having as much information about slugs, you can tackle them the right way. Drowning them in water is a sure-fire way to get rid of them, right? Well, first you must ask: Can slugs swim or not?

It’s probably not a surprise to learn that slugs cannot swim. There are sea slugs, of course, but we are talking about garden slugs.

Can Slugs Drown?

If slugs are submerged in water with no means of escape then yes, they can drown. Knowing that slugs can drown means you can use it against them. However, using only water will not be the best step in trapping slugs. It would be best to create a slug trap to drown them with a liquid they are enticed by. 

You can make a slug trap using beer to attract slugs. Slug traps are easy to make, and they are cheap as well. You only need a small plastic container and you need to ensure there is an opening.

You can fill the container with beer and leave it overnight. The beer in the container will attract the slugs in your garden. When the slugs enter the container, they drown in the beer and die.  

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You can also handpick the slugs in your garden and dispose of them by drowning them. You can fill a jar with water and then place slugs in the water as you walk around your garden. You’ll need to make sure the water is fairly deep to prevent the slugs from escaping.

If you opt to use a jar, then make sure you have a lid to hand. Slugs will sink to the bottom of the water and appear drowned. However, they will eventually attempt to escape from the jar before drowning entirely. This is why it’s a good idea to ensure the jar is inescapable.

Can Slugs Walk on Water?

It can come as a shock when you learn that some slugs can walk on water. This walking behaviour can be observed in water slugs. These slugs, like many gastropods, have a muscular foot that is used to slide.

The slug can walk on water because it figures out the balance between the water’s surface and the drag. In other words, slugs drag themselves on the water surface as they do on land.

However, this behaviour can only be seen in sea slugs. You won’t suddenly see those pesky garden slugs defying physics and walking across your garden pond.

Can a Slug Breathe Underwater?

There are two kinds of slugs, and they both take oxygen differently from their environments. Sea slugs will breathe using their gills. Land slugs use their lungs for breathing.

While sea slugs can breathe underwater with the help of their gills, land slugs will not be able to do that. Slugs found on land can be underwater for a brief period, after which they may drown. This small period is a surprisingly few hours, however.

If you want to speed up the drowning process and prevent the slugs from surviving underwater for extended periods then you can drown slugs in saltwater.

Slugs already have some water inside them. When you immerse a slug in saltwater, the salt in the solution can mix with the slime it produces. Once the solution has a high salt concentration more than the slug’s inside, osmosis takes place.

The water from the slug’s cells will pass the membrane to dilute. 

The key is to add a lot of salt to the solution. The higher the saltwater solution, the more osmosis will take place. Hence, this will lead to the death of slugs through dehydration.  


Slugs are slimy pests found in gardens that cause damage overnight to plants. The more you get to know about slugs as a gardener, the better it is to find effective ways to get rid of them. So, can slugs swim?

Well, if we consider all types of slugs then you can say that sea slugs are able to swim. But you probably want to know about the common garden slug. Fortunately, they cannot swim. You can use this inability to your advantage as a gardener.

You can use slug traps with beer (or even grapefruit juice) to attract slugs and then, ultimately, drown them. You can also use a saltwater solution to drown the slugs. In addition, you can also try garlic water, coffee water and soapy water.

Remember that some slugs will survive in the water for longer than you expect so make sure there is no easy means of escape from the liquid.

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