Monday, 12 August 2013

Pangolin Science

Why DO slugs climb up garage walls? Dr P J Whimbrel and a team of people in white coats with torches and rubber gloves try to find the answer.

Dr Whimbrel:
“Well, its something which has puzzled me for years. Is there something desirable on garage roofs ? Is it a competition? Are garage walls in Slug World like mountains are to humans? Do they climb them because they’re there?

First, we took a garage wall, being careful of course, to prop up the remaining structure so as not to alarm the householder when he or she returned.

Back at the laboratory, having rebuilt the garage wall, we placed it in situ under powerful electric lights which we switched off so as to reproduce night time conditions. During the preceding two days we had collected 32 slugs. These varied greatly in colour and size, but all, we noticed with interest, were covered in what appeared to be snot. This in itself was a minor breakthrough because, as we all know, slugs do not have noses. 

Using our rubber gloves and our torches, my team and I took four slugs each and placed them at the foot of our garage wall.

At first, nothing happened. Then I realised that shining powerful torches on them made the slugs think it was daytime, and as we all know, slugs do not climb up garage walls during the hours of daylight. I immediately ordered my team to turn their torches off. No sooner had the laboratory been plunged into darkness than we all heard what can only be described as snotlike noises coming from the darkened garage wall. Using a MkIII Directional Noise Detector I realised that the noises were moving upwards at some speed. I swiftly ordered that the powerful electric lights be switched back on. At the same instant, through my Directional Noise Detector, I heard what seemed to be tiny screams followed in quick succession by soft squidgy impacts.

You might imagine our shock when we realized that whilst we had provided these loveable creatures with a garage wall to climb up, we had failed to offer them a garage roof. As a result, every slug in the experiment had fallen to its death.

Sadly but quite properly, there is to be a Government Enquiry now, forced by pressure from the Animal Rights lobby. I can only offer in defence of my team, the fact that we were in uncharted territory. If after the enquiry, permission is granted to continue this area of research, my team and I will know that in future we will need a whole garage to work with.

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