Do Slugs Have Teeth?

Do Slugs Have Teeth

As you well know, slug damage is incredibly noticeable. They create holes across leaves and greenery throughout the garden. But how are they doing this damage? Do slugs have teeth or is it something else they do to your planets?

While it may not look like it, slugs do have teeth and that is how they cause the majority of the damage to your plants.

If you look at a slug from afar, you will notice it looks like a larger, darker, more slimy worm. Many people do not see visible teeth on slugs. Ultimately, you’re never going to see them with your naked human eye. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have any.

Can Slugs Bite You?

Although rare, there is a small risk of a slug being able to bite you… Not necessarily on purpose but it can happen. But that doesn’t mean you need to panic just yet!

A slug would never bite you as an attack or to hunt you down. However, slugs can mistake you for a snack and bite you.

The good news is that if you are working in your garden and come across a slug, do not worry about slug bites because the teeth are not strong enough to pierce your skin. If a slug does bite you, you’ll actually be lucky if you notice as the feeling of being bitten is almost non-existent.

Some gardeners claim to have felt a tingly sensation where they have been bitten by a slug but this is rare so it’s not something worth worrying about.

How Many Teeth Does a Slug Have?

If slugs have teeth, how many are there and what purpose do they serve?

It is a surprising fact that slugs have 27,000 teeth. Slugs need many teeth because they do not chew their food before swallowing. The 27,000 teeth are not arranged in rows like humans but in a flexible band called a radula. 

The radula is a band of microscopic teeth like a saw, cutting through leaves and vegetables. The teeth currently at work in the radula can wear out. When the teeth wear out, another row moves forward to replace them. Technical, right?

Do Slugs Bite Animals?

As aforementioned, slugs do not pose serious threats to anyone around them. Slugs are not aggressive and not defensive at all.

If you have pets, you know that they can be curious, especially cats and dogs. There is a chance that a slug will bite your cat or dog – again, not intentionally. This should not be a cause for concern because it will not be painful in any way.

Do Slugs Use Their Teeth to Defend Themselves?

If slugs have so many teeth, do they use it as a defence strategy? Slugs do not bite when they are in danger. Therefore, they do not use their teeth to defend themselves against predators. 

When slugs are faced with a treat, they will make their body hard and attach themselves to the surface they are on. The tight grip prevents the predators from picking them up, and the mucus makes the slugs slippery. 

You’ll have noticed this yourself in the garden. If you knock a slug that is on a pot but fail to remove it then the slug’s grip on that pot will become stronger the next time you try to remove it.

Do Slugs Have Teeth for Defence

Is a Slug Bite Poisonous?

So, do slugs have teeth? Yes. Do slugs bite? Potentially. Can those slug bites harm you?

No, do not worry if a slug has bitten you. Garden slugs are not poisonous and pose no harm if they bite you or your pets.  

There is a small word of warning about slugs that must be addressed, however. The mucus which slugs produce can be harmful if ingested by pets.

The mucus can cause vomiting and drooling. In addition, although slugs are not poisonous, they are carriers of the lungworm parasite. You need to worry about pets ingesting the slugs. Not all slugs will carry the lungworm parasite, but if your pet ingests one that does, it can be fatal for them. 

Summary 

You can tell that you have slugs by the holes they leave in plants. They’re pretty iconic. But how are they creating these holes? Are they sucking holes into the leaves or do slugs have teeth?

These slimy pests have a whopping 27,000 teeth that are in a flexible band called a radula. The radula is there because slugs do not chew before swallowing. After the teeth wear out, the next set replaces them. 

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