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Rare lemon slug discovered at West Hanger
The rare lemon or slender slug Malacolimax tenellus has been discovered at West Hanger, an area of Shere Woodlands Local Nature Reserve, also part of Combe Bottom Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) near East Clandon, which Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) manages on behalf of SCC.
There are very few records of the slug in Surrey and most date from the ‘70s and ‘80s, from the North Downs and Leith Hill area. This petite slug actually features in the selection criteria for the SSSI, because it is so rare.
It is quite small for a slug (only up to 4 cm in length) and pale to deep yellow in colour, which explains its common name. Other distinguishing features include its contrastingly dark grey/lilac tentacles, a finger print-like texture to the mantle (or ‘saddle’ feature on its back) and a short raised keel towards the tail end.
Although it occurs throughout the UK, the lemon slug is highly localised and apparently confined to ancient broadleaved and mixed woodlands where it is found in leaf litter and on rotting deadwood, emerging at night to feed on fungi and lichens.
Mike Waite, SWT Living Landscapes Manager who made the discovery, says: “At a bit of a loose end on yet another wet Saturday this July, I decided to have a look for the lemon slug in some of its previously recorded haunts. The recent wash-out has certainly benefitted slugs and snails, so conditions were optimum! West Hanger quickly turned up trumps and it will be interesting to return later in the year to gain a better sense of just how common the species is here.”
Leo Jennings, SWT Ranger, says: “Whilst Shere Woodlands is a working woodland, with an active programme of felling, coppicing and grazing, the management plan for the reserve takes into account the habitat requirements of species such as the lemon slug -namely large pieces of rotting wood in undisturbed ancient woodland - so some of the steepest parts of the site are earmarked as non-intervention areas, in order to allow natural decay processes to take place.”
|Date published:||Wednesday 01 August 2012|