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Bat Walk 2013 (and slug sex)

This article contains graphic photos of mollusc copulation and is not for the faint hearted.

This year’s Bat Walk took place on a warm Sunday evening on the 25th August 2013. Led by Daniel Greenwood from the London Wildlife Trust, the bat detectors were switched on and the walk began: first DKH Open Space, then across the Greendale Fields to the Greendale path, then back towards the wood and around DKH Open Space.

Compared to last year there were not as many bats – only 6 passes. We wondered if this was because the lights on the Greendale path have been updated and are much stronger than before. All in all we counted:

  • 4 common pipstrelle
  • 2 soprano pipstrelle
Bat detecting seems boring compared to what came next....
Bat detecting seems tame compared to what came next….

However, as exciting as bat detecting is, it was something far more unexpected that has seared that night into the memories of those who attended…

Daniel had earlier mentioned a film he had recently seen showing the mating ritual of the leopard slug. It sounded disgusting to be honest. Little did we know that one particular false acacia tree in DKH Open Space was going to reveal this sluggy activity to us innocent bystanders that very night.

One of our bat detecting group noticed a lot of leopard slugs circling a tree and as we approached, it became clear that we were to witness first-hand the aforementioned mating ritual. We gathered around the tree trunk, illuminating the beasts in the light of our electronic devices. The mating began…

(click the photos for bigger versions, if you dare)

First find a partner, wrap yourselves around them and dangle on a long thread of mucous halfway up a tree trunk
Next, reveal your (blurred) genitals from the back of your head (the same genitals for both parties as slugs are hermaphrodites)
Now entwine both sets of genitals to form a sluggy conch-shell
Beware of humans recording your every move
Swap identical sperm-like sacs through said genitalia
Ignore other slugs waiting their turn to have a go on the favourite tree

If none of this has made any sense (and I wouldn’t blame you) feel free to sit back and enjoy the professionalism of the BBC:

2 thoughts on “Bat Walk 2013 (and slug sex)”

  1. I don’t think so – there’s no gender differences so I imagine that makes things easy? Obviously I’m just guessing – worth asking a slug next time you see one.

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