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Meet the weirdest animal in Cardiff

One species in South Wales stands mantle and tentacles above the rest when it comes to strange. Discover what they are and how to find them.

There is a mysterious creature hunting beneath our feet. It’s bright white in colour, eats worms and can suck its own head inside out. Selenochlamys ysbryda takes the Welsh word ‘ysbryd’, meaning ghost or spirit. More commonly, it is simply known as the ‘Ghost Slug’. 

Given its pale-white hue and carnivorous diet, the ghost slug contrasts sharply to the dark, herbivorous slugs commonly found in British gardens. 

After one was unearthed by a Cardiff resident in 2008, the specimen was taken to National Museum Wales and revealed to be a completely new species to science. But where did it come from?

As this ghostly white slug stands out in dark soil, it spends most of its time underground.

Experts believe that the species is not native to the UK. Following the discovery in Cardiff, a Ukrainian scientist identified the same species in Crimea and this is believed to be the most likely country of origin. 

Exactly how it got here is still shrouded in mystery. Scientists have speculated that the ghost slugs were accidentally introduced in plant pots, hiding deep in the soil.

One thing they know for certain is that it is certainly not sluggish when it comes to travel. These little creatures have been spreading fast since they were first found in Cardiff. 

Dr Ben Rowson of the National Museum Wales was first to describe the ghost slug.

Ghost slugs have now been reported across South East Wales and have even haunted soil as far away as Oxfordshire. The impact that they might be having on our ecosystems is completely unknown.

Even with this seemingly aggressive range expansion and its conspicuous white colour, it still lives up to its ghostly name and is seldom seen by the general public. The animal often lives up to a meter underground and is extremely elusive.

If you want to go searching for ghosts of the sluggy kind, the location is key. They are well established in central Cardiff and can be found underneath stones and rocks with a lot of patience and luck.   

All the equipment needed for a successful ghost (slug) hunt.
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