Do Slugs Feel Pain?

Slugs can cause havoc across your garden and flower beds. There are a few known methods for getting rid of slugs including salt, baking soda and drowning them in beer. But do slugs feel pain when you use these methods?

Slugs have a simple nervous system therefore their ability to feel pain is limited.

Slugs do not feel pain along with other insects you may find in the garden such as worms and snails.

Having a simple nervous system means that these animals do not process emotions. Therefore, like other animals, slugs do not experience pain and suffering.

If you hurt a slug or put salt on it, it will not process those emotions according to scientists.

Do Slugs Have Brains?

Slugs have something that could be described as a brain but it is far from what we humans have and knows as a brain.

A slug’s brain is made up of a tangle of nerves that can process simple functions such as controlling their eyes and their touch receptors.

Are Slugs Conscious?

When we talk about consciousness, we are looking at self-awareness. Looking at other animals, we can tell they are self-conscious as they are aware of their surroundings.

On the other hand, slugs are not conscious animals the way humans are. While slugs can have a sense of their surroundings, for example, water and sunlight, they do not have a cerebral capacity beyond that. 

When we talk about the mind and consciousness, there are different schools of thought.

For example, we know that slugs can have thoughts and main active decisions because they have a brain.

However, another school of thought states that consciousness is a state of mind. While slugs are processing information, it is not of a great level because they do not have the capacity for it.

Does Salt Hurt Slugs?

When we talk about getting rid of slugs, one common way is to sprinkle salt on them. When you sprinkle salt on the slug, it will squirm, and the salt gets rid of the water in the slug’s body causing their body to dehydrate.

While people think of salt as a good way of controlling slugs, it does nothing but kills them. As the salt takes out all the water from the slug’s body, it becomes dehydrated and dies. 

Unfortunately, unlike slicing them in half with a garden implement or stepping on them, using salt is a slow death for a slug. Therefore, there is a chance that the slug will feel some pain from the use of salt as there is time for the slug to process what is happening to them.

Do Slugs Feel Pain When You Step on Them?

When you step on a slug, it will die, and the mucus will get stuck to your feet. Fortunately, slugs are not reported to experience pain the same way as other animals and humans.

Therefore, slugs will feel some level of discomfort when you step on them. However, they are unlikely to experience real pain when you step on them. 

Slugs do not have a cerebral cortex that is responsible for higher processes of emotions. Therefore, if you step on a slug, you should not have to worry too much. 

What Are Ethical Ways to Get Rid of Slugs?

If you are worried about causing discomfort to slugs and do not wish to see them squirm in pain, you can adopt some ethical ways to get rid of them.

Pouring salt on slugs or slicing them in half with your garden hoe may make some people flinch. However, there are some other methods you can adopt to keep your garden safe from slugs:


The first thing you can do is make use of eggshells. Usually, you will throw eggshells away. However, you can break them into pieces and put them in the soil.

The barrier you will form using eggshells is effective in keeping out slugs from attacking your flowers and plants. 

Do Crushed Eggshells Deter Snails

Garlic Water

You can also try spraying your plants with garlic water. Garlic water is effective because the strong smell keeps the slugs away. But also, the garlic will not harm your plants in any manner. 

Manually Remove Them

If you do not have a big slug infestation, you can handpick the slugs from your plants and trap them in a jar before releasing them away from your property.

Some people are not entirely comfortable with handpicking them because slugs are notoriously slimy, and it tends to get messy.

However, if you are up for adopting this method then make sure you wake up early before the sun has fully risen and the air is dewy. This is prime time for catching slugs in the act.

Coffee Grounds

To keep slugs away from your plants, you can also sprinkle the soil with some coffee grounds. Slugs do not like the smell of coffee grounds so will make sure to stay away from your garden.

In addition to keeping slugs away, the coffee grounds will work to give you healthy soil and keep your plants happy. 


Many people also use copper fencing or tape to keep slugs out. The copper reacts with the slug slime to give them a small jolt. After getting a jolt, the slugs will avoid coming to your garden altogether.

These are some of the methods you can use to keep slugs away. It is important to remember that for the methods to work, you need to be consistent with them. 


If you are a gardener, you know how much damage slugs can cause to plants and flowers. While there are ways to kill slugs, many people hesitate because they do not want to inflict pain upon them.

However, slugs do not feel pain because they do not have a cerebral cortex that is responsible for higher emotion processes. 

While slugs may not experience pain, they might feel discomfort. Therefore, you can use some humane ways of getting rid of slugs such as eggshell barriers, garlic water, and growing plants in your garden which repels them.

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