34 He aha tērā? What is that?

Lift a lid on a damp, shady item near your house and you may find one of these. It’s about as long and thick as your finger, greyish with speckles in a kind of striped pattern along its body. He aha tērā? What is that?

A long thick speckled creature oozing along a piece of wood, with hand beside for size.
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

Scroll down to see the answer.

Answer: it’s a leopard slug, Limax maximus:

Identification: The adult slug measures 10–20 cm in length and is generally a light greyish or grey-brown with darker spots and blotches, although the coloration and exact patterning of the body of this slug species is quite variable.

The slug is almost always found near human habitation — usually in lawns, gardens, cellars or in other damp areas.

This species is not gregarious. It frequents gardens, damp and shady hedgerows and woods, hiding during the day beneath stones, under fallen trees, or other obscure and damp places. It does however exhibit a decided preference for the vicinity of human habitations, and readily takes up its abode in damp cellars or outbuildings.

Limax maximus is omnivorous. It is a detrivore, cleaning up dead plants and fungi, and a carnivore known to pursue other slugs at a top speed of 15 centimetres per minute.

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