I have particularly strong distaste towards anything slimy, and these giant snails of Mount Kaputar, in northern New South Wales, Australia, are large enough to send shivers down my spine.
Located in the alpine forest of the isolated mountaintop, the giant, fluorescent pink slugs grow up to 20 centimeters long and crawl out of their hiding only during rainy nights to feed off the mould and moss on the trees. But plants aren’t the only thing they feed on. The Triboniophorus aff. graeffei, as it is scientifically called, is a carnivorous, cannibal land snail that roam the mountaintop in search of other vegetarian snails.
Triboniophorus aff. graeffei is actually just one of three cannibal snails that live on Mount Kaputar. These voracious little fellows hunt around on the forest floor to pick up the slime trail of another snail, then hunt it down and gobble it up.
Locals had long reported seeing bizarre pink slugs after rainfall in the area, but it was only very recently that taxonomists confirmed the slugs. Michael Murphy, a ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, says in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "On a good morning, you can walk around and see hundreds of them, but only in that one area."
The damp rainforest of Mount Kaputar have a unique ecosystem. This tiny island of alpine forest is only about 10 kilometers by 10 kilometers, but this forest is teeming with life found nowhere else in the world.
Scientists believe that the area is a relic of a bygone era when much of eastern Australia was damp rainforest, and probably would have long since vanished, if a volcano had not erupted at Mount Kaputar about 17 million years ago. The eruption resulted in the creation of a high-altitude haven where invertebrates and plant species, that have been isolated for millions of years, after Australia dried out and the rainforests receded, still thrive.
Feeding trails of the Mount Kaputar Pink Slug in Mount Kaputar National Park
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