Sunday, 13 June 2010

Another Slug Experiment

After the sad demise of 50 of my garden slugs I report now another experiment with more slugs.  For the full story of the previous experiments read the comments on this post at Ruth’s.  For those who can’t wait to get into this post I append brief details at the bottom of this post.

I can assure any readers worried about the safety of these slugs that none was maltreated in any way during the course of this experiment.

My new experiments were designed to investigate the effect reported in the Telegraph.

“They tested men and women's bias towards looks by conducting a series of tests on 20 women and 20 men, making them perform tasks while recording their brain activity.

While the subjects were doing the task they were shown a series of photographs of faces of the opposite sex, ranging from attractive to ugly.

Men were easily distracted when they saw a pretty face but women stuck to the task.”

I carried out an identical experiment with male and female slugs and found the same effect: males WERE distracted more easily when they saw a pretty slug face but female slugs stuck to the task.

Having replicated this part of the “Telegraph’s” findings I wanted to test the hypothesis that the males’ distraction was connected to their need to find a good mate. 

I showed the male and female slugs pictures of varying beauty including paintings, scenic photographs, sculpture.  Again I found that the male slugs were more easily distracted than the females and that this distraction was related positively to the degree of beauty although this time the beauty was of non-slugs.

I conclude – probably wrongly – that male slugs are more appreciative of beauty, in general, than are female slugs and that, in slugs at least, the distractibility is not related to the need to find a good partner.

I think this data is a breakthrough in our understanding of the slug brain and I expect journals to queue to be allowed to publish this outstanding data.

I am delighted to announce, although you have guessed already, that I am well on the way to a full recovery.


I started an experiment last night.
I set up a table in front of the TV, placed slugs on the table facing the TV, let them watch BB and I counted those which remained watching and those which turned away.
The results after one viewing were:
slugs watching BB = 14
slugs turned away from BB = 36
I know it's early days and I need to repeat this many times - which I will do - but already I wonder are the slugs more intelligent than BB contestants and, less controversially, are they more intelligent than Dr Scott.
Be assured I will update you daily with the viewing figures and my tentative conclusions.

I ran a follow-up experiment in which my 50 slugs were on the table facing the TV on which was showing a photograph of the "good" Dr Scott.
The result: all 50 committed suicide. They went into the kitchen, found the salt, knocked over the container and crawled and swam to their deaths.
I would commit suicide if I were forced to look at Andrew.
I guess I'll get into trouble for not offering the slugs psychological support during and after their ordeal.


  1. Truly a great scientist. Your Nobel pize is in the post

  2. How do you tell a male slug from a female slug?

  3. Ruth,
    Sexing slugs is surprisingly easy despite the fact that they are hermaphrodites: I'm sure you know this.

    Those slugs dressing in pink are predominantly female and those in blue predominantly male. Easy!

    Now you can go into your garden and check. You may have a problem if slugs have designated your garden a nudist site.

  4. You're Calum WHO??? Never met you in my life.....

  5. Of course, we've never met, Claudia, because you live so far away but I did advise you on the best way to educate the slugs in your garden so that they'll leave your prized plants alone.

    Surely, you remember?