Are Slugs Poisonous to Humans?

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

While slugs may be slimy, and possibly unwelcome in your garden because of the damage they can do to your plants, these little creatures aren't poisonous to humans. Mollusks like slugs are generally harmless to handle, but they can carry parasites that can transmit to people via accidental ingestion on unwashed produce.

Handling Marvelous Mollusks

While slugs are generally considered garden pests, these little guys feed on your valuable vegetation and on decaying plant matter and other organic matter like animal feces. These creatures are like the cleanup crews of the natural world who move along by secreting a trail of bitter mucus. Unfortunately, because of their icky diet, if you handle a harmless slug and don't wash your hands afterward you could ingest one of the parasites the creatures might carry, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Slithery Slug Dangers

Accidentally ingesting a slug in your salad won't necessarily hurt you; some people even cook and eat them with no issues. Some slugs feed on rat feces, though, where they pick up the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, commonly called the rat lungworm, which causes meningitis in humans. Because slugs can vary in length from a quarter-inch to 8 inches, it's easy to miss smaller ones among unwashed salad greens, vegetables or fruits. Avoid issues by washing all of your produce thoroughly and washing your hands after handling any wild or pet slugs.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.