Snake skin hunter slug (Chlamydephorus dimidius)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumMollusca
ClassGastropoda
OrderStylommatophora
FamilyChlamydephoridae
GenusChlamydephorus (1)
SizeExtended length: up to 55 mm (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

This imaginatively named slug earns its intriguing description for the snake-like texture to its skin, with dark-coloured grooves appearing to divide the skin into scales. The roundish body, which tapers gently towards the head, and more acutely at its rear, has a pale buff upper surface, brown to dark brown sides, and a dark brown, almost black, border between the two. This border may thin and become fragmented in some slugs, particularly when fully extended. The sole (underside) is pale greyish-brown and extensively speckled with small dark spots (2).

The snake skin hunter slug is endemic to the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, where it is known from just a few scattered localities (1) (2). Although found primarily in the coastal region between Durban and the Mtamvuna River, additional records exist from Qudeni Forest near Kranskop and Hluhluwe Game Reserve (2).

This unusual slug inhabits coastal lowland, scarp and mist-belt forests, where it has been observed under fallen logs, on tree trunks and amongst the leaf-litter (2).

Very little has been documented on this intriguing species, which is rarely encountered and difficult to observe in the wild (3). The slug’s biology and behaviour therefore remain poorly understood (3), except for what little is known of its diet. The ‘hunter’ part of this species’ common name refers to its carnivorous habits (2), a behaviour that is believed to be common to the whole Chlamydephoridae family (3). This species has been observed eating a small snail in captivity, and other chlamydephorids have been recorded feeding on large pill-millipedes (Sphaerotherium spp.), which are often abundant in South African forests and within similar habitats as this slug. Earthworms and other molluscs are thought likely to feature in the diet too, although there is no direct evidence of this as yet (3).

Like many other species native to South Africa, the snake skin hunter slug is threatened by ongoing habitat loss and degradation as a result of human encroachment, and the associated effects of residential, agricultural and infrastructural expansion (2).

There are currently no specific conservation measures targeting this species, but at least one recorded locality is within a formally conserved area (Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve) (4).

For more information on the snake skin hunter slug, see:

For more information on conservation in South Africa, see:

Authenticated (13/07/2006) by Dr. Dai G. Herbert, Chief Curator: Mollusca, Natal Museum, and member of the IUCN/SSC Southern African Invertebrate, and Mollusc Specialist Groups.
http://www.nmsa.org.za/

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Inland Invertebrate Initiative: Database of Threatened Invertebrates of South Africa (June, 2006)
    http://www.ukzn.ac.za/redlist/detail_page.asp?id=77
  3. Herbert, D.G. (2000) Dining on diplopods: remarkable feeding behaviour in chlamydephorid slugs (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Journal of Zoology, 251: 1 - 5.
  4. Herbert, D.G. (2006) Pers. comm.