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Slugs and snails

These gastropods are a type of mollusc. Many of these soft-bodied invertebrates have shells to support and protect their bodies.

Gastropod means ‘belly feet’, which reflects how slugs and snails move by creeping on their undersides.

There are about 24 British slug species, around half of which are seen in gardens in Scotland. A mature garden may also be home to an interesting range of snails.

Slugs have evolved from snails through the loss of their shell. They’re more susceptible to desiccation since they lack a convenient shell to hide in when times get tough. But slugs can protect themselves, to an extent, with mucus.

Slugs and snails are usually considered garden pests, though most prefer a diet of decaying plant matter to living plants. So tidy gardens may suffer more damage than those with dead vegetation lying around.

Molluscs can attract other wildlife to your garden, as they’re a good source of food for:

Protection of invertebrates

Find out about our protected species of invertebrate.

Learn about protected invertebrate species and licensing.