Hello Everyone!

Here is everything I know about the Pacific Banana Slugs of Olympic National Park!

Whether you love them or hate them, banana slugs are fascinating and have evolved into interesting critters. Banana slugs are a type of mollusk, called gastropods, which are snails and slugs from saltwater, freshwater, land, or sea. Banana slugs most likely evolved from sea snails. Land snails carry a shell for protection and because of this, land snails can only live in areas that have sources of calcium to grow that shell, whereas slugs can fill the niche of land areas that are low or absent of calcium, hence slugs can live almost anywhere. Banana slugs like cool, moist areas to rest and they will return to favorite places they like, and these places are called “homes”. Banana slugs can float and are able to swim by twisting in a sideways motion.
The banana slug is the second-largest species of land slug in the world, growing up to 9.8 inches long (25 cm) and can move at 6.5 inches (17 cm) per minute. In Washington State the native banana slug is called the Pacific Banana Slug, Ariolimax columbianus. On the Olympic Peninsula, most of the slugs are a dark olive green, with black spots, compared to the bright yellow banana slugs of California. The California Banana Slug is the mascot of the University of California at Santa Cruz. Go Slugs! The specific color of a slug can indicate diet, age, health, and habitat camouflage.  
Slugs do not see very well; they can only detect changes in light intensity and movement. Slugs have two sets of tentacles on their head and the tentacles can retract and extend to avoid damage. If a predator bites off a tentacle, the slug can grow a new one. The upper and longer tentacles (called “eyestalks”) hold the eyes, which are the small black dots at the very end. The lower and much shorter tentacles function as “feelers” and can also detect odors. Slugs have a strong sense of smell, which is often how they find their food and more importantly, their favorite foods. Banana slugs are detritivores; they generally eat dead organic matter and whatever “litter” falls or lies on the forest floor, but they prefer mushrooms. Slugs contribute to decomposition and the nutrient cycles of the forest and are an important aspect of the ecosystem. 
Pictures above: Slugs often become "road-kill" on the trails as we hike. A dead slug is a special treat for the forest beetles.
If you hold a Banana Slug, sometimes you can see and feel, the slug scraping your skin with its toothed tongue, called the “radula” and its “odontophore” (the supportive cartilage), which are both used like a guillotine to chop and pull food into the esophagus. The rows of teeth are continually breaking off and are quickly replaced with the next row of growing teeth. Their mouth is only used for eating, they do not breath through their mouth. On the upper top front part of the slug’s body, there is second layer of flesh called the “mantle”. This is the same area where a snail would grow a shell. The mantle is a protective covering for several important biological parts of the slug. On the right side of the mantle, there is a hole, a large pore, called the “pneumostome”, this is the opening to the lung. Slugs only have one lung and breath through the pneumostome. Slugs can open and close the pneumostome to breath and to conserve or release moisture and gases. Underneath the mantle, on the same side as the pneumostome, is the anus and the genitalia opening. 
Banana slugs are true, simultaneous hermaphrodites and each slug has both male and female sexual organs at the same time. Mating with a partner is more desirable, but if a partner is not possible, self-fertilization often happens. The male sexual organ of an adult is quite large in proportion to the female organ and while mating, it sometimes happens that the banana slugs are unable to detach and so the male organ will be bitten off (“apophallation”) using the slug's radula. If a banana slug has lost its male sexual organ, it can still mate as a female, making its hermaphroditic quality a valuable adaptation. Slugs will lay about 75 small translucent eggs, which develop and hatch on their own.  
Pictured above is a resting slug, with its head pulled underneath the mantle and breathing through its pneumostome.
Pictures above is a baby slug, about the length of several small pine needles.
The video below on the left, is of two slugs that acted as if they were going to mate, but eventually one "fell asleep" and the other, simply "slimed away".
Toxic Slime: Slugs have a protective coating of slim which is produced and used by all parts of the exterior body. The slime enables slugs to stick to objects and allows them to easily slide along a surface. The slime will move from front to back along the slug’s exterior body and the moving slime helps keep the slug clean of debris. This direction of slime flow will sometimes create a small tail of debris at the end of the slug, which sometimes the slug eats. Slugs can also produce a slime cord like a rope for lowering itself quickly. The slime also contains pheromones to attract other slugs for mating. The slime secreted by banana slugs contains chemicals that can numb the tongue of predators; it tastes horrible and is hard to swallow. Garter snakes and salamanders will occasionally eat slugs. Many mammals, including people, will eat slugs, but mammals will first need to remove the toxic slime.  Animals like raccoons and small mammals will roll the slugs in soil to clean off the slime. Soaking a slug in vinegar will remove slime, but they are still not “tasty” to eat; slugs are not shell-less “escargot”.  Banana slugs can carry parasites like tape worms, flukes, and round worms.  
Videos below are in "time-lapse" speed.
Olympic National Park Fun, Fun, Fun!

Backpacking season starts early in Olympic National Park. There will be snow at higher elevations through early summer, but at sea-level the temperatures stay moderate and starting in March there are many great locations available for over-night trips. Check our website for a list of camping locations for any season:

Nature Tours
We have great birding and wildlife viewing year-round on the Olympic Peninsula; with over 300 different species of birds identified on the peninsula and over 500 in Washington state. We have both northern and southern migratory birds. Come visit anytime!

Olympic National Park has over 600 miles of maintained trails and nearly 70 miles of stunning Pacific Coastline. Choose your hike and habitat; rainforest, mountains or coastal routes.

Whether you enjoy an afternoon of fishing along the river, a day on Lake Crescent or including fly-fishing with your over-night backpacking trip to an alpine lake, we will have a tour for you. Check our website for more info: Fly-Fishing Tours Link
Family Reunions and Corporate Retreats: Plan your group getaway and stay at beautiful houses and hotels on the beach. Great activities including river kayaking (float trips, no rapids) and biking on easy trails or challenging trails, biking on the beach, hiking in Olympic National Park and depending on the season, surfing and surf lessons:

You can find out more and see all our great photos on social media
International Travel Tours
New Tours
  • Panama, Birding the Darien for Harpy Eagles
  • Sri Lanka: The best and most relaxing bird tour you will ever experience
  • Nepal: Birding the fantastic Himalayas and a great cultural experience
  • India: Birding for vegetarians, great culture and great food
  • Mongolia: Birding the high steppes and staying in traditional "Gers" for lodging
  • Sarawak and Northern Borneo: Birding and wildlife viewing, including orangutans
  • Korea: Winter birding to view cranes and migrants
  • Japan: Birding the Kyoto and Osaka areas
  • Tallinn, Estonia for Winter Birding and New Year's Eve

Still on the Schedule
  • Iceland: Great tours in May, the best New Year's Eve trip ever, and a special winter tour
  • Sweden: Christmas tour, Southwest Sweden and the Åland Islands for mid-summers'
  • Nicaragua: Our all time favorite place for birding and traveling anytime of year
  • El Salvador: Birding the best National Parks and Pacific Coast
  • Taiwan: A very special place for birding and one of our favorites
  • Colombia: Birding the Andes and Amazon, and having a lot of fun
  • Argentina: Birds and butterflies, more than you can count
  • Brittany, France: Birding the coast, great food and culture

In the United States
  • Santa Fe Birding and Opera Festival
  • Chicago Fun and Urban Birding
Check our website for dates, details and pricing
Call us at 970-556-6103
email: KaiyoteTours@gmail.com
Your Travel and Adventure Guides: Kaiyote & Ed
Photo: Here we are in Sarawak, Borneo during our visit to the Asian Bird Fair in the fall of 2019. We look forward to showing you all the great birds, wildlife and adventures that can be found around the world, the United States and in Washington state. Call us anytime! See you soon!
Kaiyote Tours www.KaiyoteTours.com +1 970-556-6103