There is no need to use toxic slug pellets (even the ‘safer versions’ can cause harm to pets). They also throw nature out of balance (if a bird eats a slug pellet and dies, the animal that eats the bird also dies etc).
Slug pellets (even the ‘safer versions’) can all harm pets and children, as well as wildlife. Bin them securely. Also keep dogs away from slugs and snails, to prevent lungworm.
Firstly, know that like all creatures, slugs and snails provide a reason for being. They offer food for birds and many other types of wildlife, and usually do little harm. In fact, they are quite fascinating creatures. Read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (a book by a bedridden woman who became fascinated by their romantic love lives). And Ruth Brooks who discovered that their homing instinct is so strong that they have to be moved a long way away: went from waging a war, to being a fan.
Humane Ways to Deter Slugs & Snails
- Clear away ‘slimy areas’ where slugs and snails congregate. One idea is to plant a ‘slug lettuce patch’. Then move any you find.
- Be careful with natural methods. Items that claim to be harmless often aren’t (spices etc). Never drown them in beer, this is cruel.
- Grazers is a nontoxic calcium spray that has been used for years to deter rabbits, geese, deer, pigeons (and possums in Australia. Don’t use for pet rabbits, as it makes grass unpalatable. Made in Yorkshire, it now comes in a version to deter slugs and snails, and claims to do no harm to any creature.
- Molluskit was invented in Scotland by a worm-loving ‘garage tinkerer’. It’s a kit made from recycled materials that you slot together, and it deters slugs and snails, including at the roots. Tested at Scotland’s Rural College to be 86% effective, far better than chemicals.
Found a Trodden-On Snail?
Are you a sensitive soul, who gets upset at seeing a half-trodden-on snail? Experts say that if you find a small crack, it will probably recover. But if the snail is badly smashed, it’s probably kinder to give a few quick stamps to ‘send it to snail heaven’, or it will suffer and slowly dehydrate.
Most snails on walls will leave hibernation, when it rains or gets warmer. If you see a small snail with a soft shell, it is not always broken (young snails take time to develop a hard shell). So where possible, just leave them be, they are likely fine.
The Snail with the Right Heart is based on a true story. Emerging from the life of one tiny, unusual creature dwelling in a pile of compost amid an English garden, this is a lyrical invitation not to mistake difference for defect and welcome diversity as the wellspring of the universe’s beauty and resilience. It’s the story of how a retired scientist from London’s Natural History Museum noticed a most unusual garden snail that was smaller and darker and is a ‘lefty’ as his tentacles face a different way, meaning it would mean he could only mate with one a million.
Naming him Jeremy (after the left-wing MP), he asks for someone to find him a mate so they can slot together, and gardeners all search their compost piles, to find him love! It is a sad ending, but shows what wildlife can teach us, from a little snail who spiraled left instead of right (the same direction the Earth crawls around the sun).