Common name: Leopard Slug
Scientific name: Limax maximus

Why are we looking for it?

The Leopard Slug is thought to be widespread in the UK, but there are relatively few records of where it actually occurs.

Learning more about where this species is found, and in what numbers, will add to our knowledge of the species. It will also help us monitor how populations change in the future. How common is it and do urban areas provide a suitable habitat?

Identification features

  • Up to 16cm long when fully grown
  • Brown or grey, with brown or black spots/blotches
  • Front of body has marbled pattern of spots (never stripes)
  • Back of body has up to three dark stripes on each side
    – dark stripes may be broken up into a line of dots
  • Underneath (sole) is white
  • Their slime is particularly sticky

Identification tips

Could be confused with…
Other slugs when young (less than 7cm long). Submitting a photo with your record allows us to check this.
Where can I find it?
Across the UK, in woodlands, hedgerows, parks and gardens that have old trees or dead wood lying on the ground. It has even been found in damp cellars and sheds.

Look close to the ground in damp places, particularly under logs and stones.

When can I find it?
All-year round.


Leopard Slugs eat fungi, rotting plants and even other slugs. They need to keep their bodies damp in order to breathe, so are usually found in dark, damp places, particularly among rotting logs.

They are hermaphrodites, meaning that each slug has both male and female sexual organs. They still need to mate with another individual though and have quite a spectacular way of doing this. The two slugs climb a tree or other structure, then hang from a branch on a thick strand of mucus, intertwined with one another. After mating, each slug lays clutches of transparent, round eggs in damp places.

Leopard Slugs can live for several years.

What does it do for us?

Leopard Slugs are a gardener’s friend. They don’t damage healthy, living plants, but they do eat other slugs, including species that can damage garden plants and vegetables. By eating dead and rotting plants, as well as fungi, Leopard Slugs recycle nutrients and fertilise the soil.

Try to encourage this helpful slug by creating a log pile – damp, rotting wood provides ideal conditions for it to live and breed.

Interesting fact

Leopard Slugs have a small disc of shell inside their body. Slugs evolved from snails and this disc is a remnant of what used to be the snail’s shell.

Think you’ve seen one?

Take a photo and complete our simple online form to help us learn more about their distribution.

Submit a sighting

Where have they been seen?

Explore our interactive map and see where the Leopard Slug has been recorded so far.

Species Quest results map

Need help with identification?

Simply upload a picture of your find to iSpot or the Natural History Museum’s Bug forum and an online community of experts and enthusiasts will do their best to identify it.

Visit the iSpot website

Visit the Bug forum on the Natural History Museum’s website

Word List: Parts of the body

abdomen- abdominalthe region of the body of a vertebrate that contains the viscera other than the heart and lungs. In mammals it is separated from the thorax by the diaphragm adenoids pharyngeal tonsil adenoid or adenoidala mass of lymphoid tissue at the back of the throat behind the uvula: when enlarged it often restricts nasal breathing, esp in young children alimentary canal-the tubular passage extending from the mouth to the anus, through which food is passed and digested ankle talus-the joint connecting the leg and the foot anus- analthe excretory opening at the end of the alimentary canal appendix vermiform appendix appendiculara wormlike pouch extending from the lower end of the caecum in some mammals. In man it is vestigial arm brachium brachial(in man) either of the upper limbs from the shoulder to the wrist armpit axilla axillarythe small depression beneath the arm where it joins the shoulder artery- arterialany of the tubular thick-walled muscular vessels that convey oxygenated blood from the heart to various parts of the body – dorsalthe posterior part of the human body, extending from the neck to the pelvis belly venter ventralthe lower or front part of the body of a vertebrate, containing the intestines and other abdominal organs; abdomen bladder urinary bladder vesicala distensible membranous sac in which the urine excreted from the kidneys is stored blood-haemal, haemic, or haematica reddish fluid in vertebrates that is pumped by the heart through the arteries and veins, supplies tissues with nutrients, oxygen, etc, and removes waste products. It consists of a fluid (see blood plasma) containing cells (erythrocytes, leucocytes, and platelets) bone ososseous, osteal, or osteoidany of the various structures that make up the skeleton in most vertebrates; the porous rigid tissue of which these parts are made, consisting of a matrix of collagen and inorganic salts, esp calcium phosphate, interspersed with canals and small holes brain encephalon cerebralthe soft convoluted mass of nervous tissue within the skull of vertebrates that is the controlling and coordinating centre of the nervous system and the seat of thought, memory, and emotion. It includes the cerebrum, brainstem, and cerebellum breast-mammaryeither of the two soft fleshy milk-secreting glands on the chest in sexually mature human females buttocks nates natal or glutealthe two large fleshy masses of thick muscular tissue that form the human rump caecum-caecalany structure or part that ends in a blind sac or pouch, esp the pouch that marks the beginning of the large intestine calf- suralthe thick fleshy part of the back of the leg between the ankle and the knee capillary- capillaryany of the delicate thin-walled blood vessels that form an interconnecting network between the arterioles and the venules cervix- cervicalany necklike part of an organ, esp the lower part of the uterus that extends into the vagina cheek gena genaleither side of the face, esp that part below the eye chest- pectoralthe front part of the trunk from the neck to the belly chin- genial or mentalthe protruding part of the lower jaw clitoris- clitorala part of the female genitalia consisting of a small elongated highly sensitive erectile organ at the front of the vulva: homologous with the penis colon- colonicthe part of the large intestine between the caecum and the rectum duodenum- duodenalthe first part of the small intestine, between the stomach and the jejunum ear- aural or oticthe organ of hearing and balance in higher vertebrates and of balance only in fishes. In humans and other mammals it consists of three parts elbow–the joint between the upper arm and the forearm, formed by the junction of the radius and ulna with the humerus epiglottis-epiglottala thin cartilaginous flap that covers the entrance to the larynx during swallowing, preventing food from entering the trachea external ear auricle or pinna-the part of the ear consisting of the auricle and the auditory canal eye- ocular or ophthalmicthe organ of sight of animals, containing light-sensitive cells associated with nerve fibres, so that light entering the eye is converted to nervous impulses that reach the brain. In man and other vertebrates the iris controls the amount of light entering the eye and the lens focuses the light onto the retina eyebrow- superciliarythe transverse bony ridge over each eye eyelash cilium ciliaryany one of the short curved hairs that grow from the edge of the eyelids eyelid- palpebraleither of the two muscular folds of skin that can be moved to cover the exposed portion of the eyeball Fallopian tube oviductoviducal or oviductaleither of a pair of slender tubes through which ova pass from the ovaries to the uterus in female mammals finger- digitalany of the digits of the hand, often excluding the thumb fingernail- ungual or ungulara thin horny translucent plate covering part of the dorsal surface of the end joint of each finger fist–a hand with the fingers clenched into the palm, as for hitting follicle-follicularany small sac or cavity in the body having an excretory, secretory, or protective function fontanelle or (chiefly U.S.) fontanel–any of several soft membranous gaps between the bones of the skull in a fetus or infant foot pes pedalthe part of the vertebrate leg below the ankle joint that is in contact with the ground during standing and walking forearm- cubitalthe part of the arm from the elbow to the wrist forehead- frontalthe part of the face between the natural hairline and the eyes, formed skeletally by the frontal bone of the skull; brow foreskin prepucepreputialthe fold of skin that covers the glans of the penis; prepuce: in circumcision it is completely or partly removed gall bladder– gland- adenoida cell or organ in man and other animals that synthesizes chemical substances and secretes them for the body to use or eliminate, either through a duct (exocrine gland) or directly into the bloodstream (endocrine gland) glottis- glotticthe vocal apparatus of the larynx, consisting of the two true vocal cords and the opening between them groin- inguinalthe depression or fold where the legs join the abdomen gullet oesophagusoesophageala less formal name for the oesophagus gum gingiva gingivalthe fleshy tissue that covers the jawbones around the bases of the teeth hamstring- poplitealany of the tendons at the back of the knee hard palate–the anterior bony portion of the roof of the mouth, extending backwards to the soft palate hair– any of the threadlike pigmented structures that grow from follicles beneath the skin of mammals and consist of layers of dead keratinized cells half-moon lunula or lunule-the white crescent-shaped area at the base of the human fingernail hand manus manualthe prehensile part of the body at the end of the arm, consisting of a thumb, four fingers, and a palm head caput capitalthe upper or front part of the body in vertebrates, including man, that contains and protects the brain, eyes, mouth, and nose and ears when present heart- cardiacthe hollow muscular organ in vertebrates whose contractions propel the blood through the circulatory system. In mammals it consists of a right and left atrium and a right and left ventricle heel–the back part of the human foot from the instep to the lower part of the ankle hip–either side of the body below the waist and above the thigh, overlying the lateral part of the pelvis and its articulation with the thighbones ileum- ileac or ilealthe part of the small intestine between the jejunum and the caecum inner ear or internal ear labyrinth-the part of the ear in the temporal bone consisting of the semicircular canals, vestibule, and cochlea instep–the middle section of the human foot, forming the arch between the ankle and toes intestine- alvinethe part of the alimentary canal between the stomach and the anus jaw- gnathic or gnathalthe part of the skull of a vertebrate that frames the mouth and holds the teeth. In higher vertebrates it consists of the upper jaw (maxilla) fused to the cranium and the lower jaw (mandible) jejunum-jejunalthe part of the small intestine between the duodenum and the ileum jugular vein–any of three large veins of the neck that return blood to the heart from the head and face kidney- renal or nephriticeither of two bean-shaped organs at the back of the abdominal cavity in man, one on each side of the spinal column. They maintain water and electrolyte balance and filter waste products from the blood, which are excreted as urine knee genu genicularthe joint of the human leg connecting the tibia and fibula with the femur and protected in front by the patella knuckle–a joint of a finger, esp that connecting a finger to the hand labia majora- labialthe two elongated outer folds of skin in human females surrounding the vaginal orifice labia minora- labialthe two small inner folds of skin in human females forming the margins of the vaginal orifice large intestine–the part of the alimentary canal consisting of the caecum, colon, and rectum. It extracts moisture from food residues, which are later excreted as faeces leg crus cruraleither of the two lower limbs, including the bones and fleshy covering of the femur, tibia, fibula, and patella lip- labialeither of the two fleshy folds surrounding the mouth, playing an important role in the production of speech sounds, retaining food in the mouth, etc liver- hepatica multilobed highly vascular reddish-brown glandular organ occupying most of the upper right part of the human abdominal cavity immediately below the diaphragm. It secretes bile, stores glycogen, detoxifies certain poisons, and plays an important part in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, helping to maintain a correct balance of nutrients loin lumbus lumbarthe part of the lower back and sides between the pelvis and the ribs lung- pulmonaryeither one of a pair of spongy saclike respiratory organs within the thorax of higher vertebrates, which oxygenate the blood and remove its carbon dioxide lymph cell lymphocyte-a type of white blood cell formed in lymphoid tissue lymph node–any of numerous bean-shaped masses of tissue, situated along the course of lymphatic vessels, that help to protect against infection by killing bacteria and neutralizing toxins and are the source of lymphocytes midriff diaphragm-the middle part of the human body, esp between waist and bust mons pubis–the fatty cushion of flesh in human males situated over the junction of the pubic bones mons veneris–the fatty cushion of flesh in human females situated over the junction of the pubic bones mouth- stomaticthe opening through which many animals take in food and issue vocal sounds nape nuchanuchalthe back of the neck navel or omphalos umbilicus umbilicalthe scar in the centre of the abdomen, usually forming a slight depression, where the umbilical cord was attached neck cervix cervicalthe part of an organism connecting the head with the rest of the body nerve- neuralany of the cordlike bundles of fibres that conduct sensory or motor impulses between the brain or spinal cord and another part of the body nerve cell neuron or neuroneneuronic a specialized cell that conducts nerve impulses: consists of a cell body, axon, and dendrites nipple or teat mamilla or papillamamillarythe small conical projection in the centre of the areola of each breast, which in women contains the outlet of the milk ducts nose- nasalthe organ of smell and entrance to the respiratory tract, consisting of a prominent structure divided into two hair-lined air passages by a median septum nostril naris narial or narineeither of the two external openings of the nose occiput- occipitalthe back part of the head or skull ovary- ovarian either of the two female reproductive organs, which produce ova and secrete oestrogen hormones pancreas- pancreatica large elongated glandular organ, situated behind the stomach, that secretes insulin and pancreatic juice penis- penilethe male organ of copulation in higher vertebrates, also used for urine excretion in many mammals pharynx- pharyngealthe part of the alimentary canal between the mouth and the oesophagus pubes- pubicthe region above the external genital organs, covered with hair from the time of puberty rectum- rectalthe lower part of the alimentary canal, between the sigmoid flexure of the colon and the anus red blood cell erythrocyteerythrocytic ribcage–the bony structure consisting of the ribs and their connective tissue that encloses and protects the lungs, heart, etc scalp–the skin and subcutaneous tissue covering the top of the head scrotum-scrotalthe pouch of skin containing the testes in most mammals shin–the front part of the lower leg shoulder–the part of the vertebrate body where the arm or a corresponding forelimb joins the trunk: the pectoral girdle and associated structures side–either half of a human or animal body, esp the area around the waist, as divided by the median plane skin cutis cutaneousthe tissue forming the outer covering of the vertebrate body: it consists of two layers (the dermis and epidermis), the outermost of which may be covered with hair, scales, feathers, etc. It is mainly protective and sensory in function small intestine–the longest part of the alimentary canal, consisting of the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, in which digestion is completed soft palate–the posterior fleshy portion of the roof of the mouth. It forms a movable muscular flap that seals off the nasopharynx during swallowing and speech sole- plantarthe underside of the foot spleen- lienal or splenetica spongy, highly vascular organ situated near the stomach in man. It forms lymphocytes, produces antibodies, aids in destroying worn-out red blood cells, and filters bacteria and foreign particles from the blood stomach- gastric(in vertebrates) the enlarged muscular saclike part of the alimentary canal in which food is stored until it has been partially digested and rendered into chyme tear duct lacrimal duct-a short tube in the inner corner of the eyelid through which tears drain into the nose temple- temporalthe region on each side of the head in front of the ear and above the cheek bone tendon–a cord or band of white inelastic collagenous tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone or some other part; sinew testicle- testiculareither of the two male reproductive glands, in most mammals enclosed within the scrotum, that produce spermatozoa and the hormone testosterone thigh- femoral or cruralthe part of the leg between the hip and the knee in man thorax- thoracicthe part of the human body enclosed by the ribs throat-guttural, gular, or jugularthat part of the alimentary and respiratory tracts extending from the back of the mouth (nasopharynx) to just below the larynx thumb pollexpollicalthe first and usually shortest and thickest of the digits of the hand, composed of two short bones toe–any one of the digits of the foot toenail- ungual or ungulara thin horny translucent plate covering part of the dorsal surface of the end joint of each toe tongue lingua lingual or glottica movable mass of muscular tissue attached to the floor of the mouth in most vertebrates. It is the organ of taste and aids the mastication and swallowing of food. In man it plays an important part in the articulation of speech sounds tonsil-tonsillar or tonsillaryeither of two small masses of lymphatic tissue situated one on each side of the back of the mouth torso–the trunk of the human body transverse colon–the part of the large intestine passing transversely in front of the liver and stomach trunk–the body excluding the head, neck, and limbs; torso umbilical cord umbilicus-the long flexible tubelike structure connecting a fetus with the placenta: it provides a means of metabolic interchange with the mother ureter-ureteral or uretericthe tube that conveys urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder or cloaca urethra-urethralthe canal that in most mammals conveys urine from the bladder out of the body. In human males it also conveys semen vagina- vaginalthe moist canal in most female mammals, including humans, that extends from the cervix of the uterus to an external opening between the labia minora vein vena venousany of the tubular vessels that convey oxygen-depleted blood to the heart vocal cords glottis glottaleither of two pairs of mucomembranous folds in the larynx. The upper pair (false vocal cords) are not concerned with vocal production; the lower pair (true vocal cords or vocal folds) can be made to vibrate and produce sound when air from the lungs is forced over them voice box larynx laryngeala cartilaginous and muscular hollow organ forming part of the air passage to the lungs: in higher vertebrates it contains the vocal cords vulva-vulval, vulvar, or vulvatethe external genitals of human females, including the labia, mons veneris, clitoris, and the vaginal orifice waist–the constricted part of the trunk between the ribs and hips white blood cell leucocyteleucocytic windpipe trachea tracheal or tracheatethe membranous tube with cartilaginous rings that conveys inhaled air from the larynx to the bronchi womb uterus uterinea hollow muscular organ lying within the pelvic cavity of female mammals. It houses the developing fetus and by contractions aids in its expulsion at parturition wrist carpus-the joint between the forearm and the hand ▷ See bodyCopyright © 2016 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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Intraoperative stem cell graft. Photograph: Ruhr-University Bochum

In diabetes, the immune system kills off all the body’s pancreatic beta cells, leaving it unable to produce insulin. In its absence, the body’s sugar levels fluctuate wildly, meaning that patients need to monitor glucose and typically inject insulin several times each day. “Injecting insulin has been the treatment for nearly 100 years and the only real advances have been the way it’s provided, via a pen or a pump,” says Melton.

Although insulin injections help to keep glucose levels broadly in check, the system is crude in comparison with the body’s fine tuning, and the lack of control can eventually lead to complications, from blindness to the loss of limbs, and shortens life by a decade, on average.

“The starting point was: why don’t you just make the beta cell and put it back?” says Melton. “You’d replace the finger pricks and the injections with nature’s own invention.”

Yet nature turned out to be hard to replicate and Melton worked for 15 years to get to the point where his lab could transform embryonic stem cells into pancreatic beta cells at large enough volumes to treat patients.

“The challenge was how to get mastery over that process,” says Melton. “It’s not a one-step process; it’s a six-step, 30- to 40-day process.”

The pancreas, a large gland in the stomach, contains hundreds of millions of beta cells – together they would occupy the volume of a pea. Melton’s lab can grow around a million cells per millilitre – enough cells to replace those lost in diabetes can be grown in a teapot-sized vessel.

In mice, Melton’s lab-grown cells have been shown to work normally for many months, automatically detecting glucose and secreting insulin as required. Before transplanting, the cells are placed inside a porous capsule, which allows insulin to diffuse out, but protects the cells from attacks by the body’s immune system. This also eliminates the need for genetic-matching to patients, which Melton hopes will allow the cells, one day, to be produced on an industrial scale.

“I think of beer commercials with people standing next to giant stainless steel vats,” says Melton. “That is what will happen, but it’s not going to happen in the next few years.”

Through his startup company, Semma (named after his children Sam and Emma) Therapeutics, Melton is carrying out the final phase of animal trials and hoping to begin his first clinical trial by 2020. Patients will have a thin capsule of cells, about the size of a credit card, placed beneath the skin (the arm or inner thigh, perhaps). The first steps will be establishing safety and how long the cells are active for – the hope is a year or more, but they could last for more than a decade; mice don’t live long enough to test this. At his family’s recent Thanksgiving dinner, Melton asked his children, now in their 20s, whether they would like to be involved in the first trial.

“It’s the first time they heard about the dates when the trial might be happening,” he says. “They’re both thinking about it.”

Melton jokes that his children probably wonder: “What the hell is taking so long, Dad?”

In a field that has such incredible potential, delays are hard to live with. Every year of waiting means that babies with fatal congenital defects can’t be treated, diabetics continue to die early, damaged hearts can’t be healed.

Scientists who have been working for decades to harness the curative powers of stem cells have not forgotten these grand goals. Many are now within touching distance of delivering transformative therapies. Cell therapy trials for age-related macular degeneration (one at Moorfields Eye hospital) and other forms of blindness are delivering promising results; this year, scientists came significantly closer to building a pipeline to manufacture vast quantities of lab-grown blood; a study in monkeys suggested that implanting neurons derived from stem cells could help treat Parkinson’s.

“I do realise that talking to reporters, when I say ‘years away’, they think ‘our readers don’t care about this’,” Melton says. “But when you’re successful, that lasts for 100 years.”

These could be used during an All About Me theme. This set has 23 word cards.

Find more word card sets in the Picture Word Cards collection.

How to use the word cards:

There are a few ways you can use these picture-word cards and display them.

Have fun by using these word cards while playing games, such as Simon Says (“Simon says touch your elbow”, etc.). Or pretend your fingers are an ant by “walking” your fingers to different parts of the body (“An ant crawled up your ankle”).

You can make picture dictionaries by punching a hole in the top left corner (punch hole dot provided). Hook them together with a metal binder ring.

You can place the cards in a pocket chart. Kids can take the words out of the pocket chart to take to the table if they want to copy the word on their paper. I keep a pocket chart on the wall of my Writing Center and change out the word cards for each theme.

You might also want to put them in the pocket chart during the theme, then later hook them on a picture dictionary ring to add to a collection of thematic words through the year.

You can use these cards to practice clapping or stomping the syllables in the words.

The blank set of cards has the picture without the word. These can be used for other languages or other writing styles, such as D’nealian.

Download the Parts of the Body Word Cards:

Blank Set
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