Dog-killing slugs are gaining ground unexpectedly fast in the UK


A snail sits on a plant.


Dan Kitwood

Slugs are not known for their swiftness, but fear of those carrying a parasite fatal to dogs is spreading fast in Britain. And with the nation in the grips of a snail epidemic, this is "becoming a real problem," Dr. Dave Hodgson warned the BBC on Friday.

The United Kingdom has reportedly seen a 50 percent increase in its snail population over the past year, worrying dog-owners whose pets are threatened by the snail- and slug-carrying lungworm angiostrongylus vasorum.

Hodgson's team, concerned about the spread of the snail-born parasite, strapped LED lights and other paraphernalia to the creatures to track their distance.

Turns out they can cover "the length of an average UK garden in a single night," worried the BBC.

Um, that's about three feet an hour. Still, they "piggy-back on others' slime to save energy," said the Mirror

There is that. Not one to beat around the bush, Hodgson informed the BBC that snails "are not just lettuce munchers, they are carriers of parasites that can kill your dogs." 

As many as 952 suspected cases were found in a survey of 150 veterinary practices in Britain, said the International Business Times

The urgency became such that Bayer Animal Health established the Be Lungworm Aware campaign and commissioned the University of Exeter snail study, said the BBC.

The result was the first research of its kind; scientists discovered that making slime is hard — snails are believed to spend 30 percent of their energy on that alone, said the Mirror.

Meanwhile, dog owners in Britain are advised to comb their gardens regularly to remove potentially dangerous errant snails. 

All in moderation, of course. "I wouldn't be too happy suggesting that there should be a snail apocalypse and everyone should get rid of them," Hodgson told the BBC. "I think awareness is a better idea, people need to understand the wildlife in their gardens and that no organism is totally harmless."