These humane methods to deter slugs and snails are not just kinder to these often derided creatures, but also much safer for pets and wildlife. Slug pellets are lethal to pets (and even the more natural iron phosphate versions can cause harm) and they can also harm children. They can also have a devastating effect on wildlife. For example, if a small bird eats a slug pellet and dies, the animal that eats the bird that ate the pellet also dies. It is important to keep dogs away from slugs and snails, to prevent lungworm.
There is no need to use toxic slug pellets. Bin them securely and dispose of, then switch to more natural methods. 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 Deterrence Methods
- 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) by making grass unpalatable (so don’t use for pet rabbits). 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 slowly dehydrate. Most snails on walls will leave hibernation, when it rains or gets warmer.