As a landscape gardener, Christian Owen has seen his fair share of slugs and quite often he is reaching for the pest control.
But on an outing with the Glamorgan Fungus Group recently to Wern Ddu Forest, near Caerphilly town, his eyes were on stalks after he spotted this strange-looking creature (pictured above).
It has now been confirmed that the self-employed 42-year-old from Aberbargoed discovered the UK’s first home of the Alsatian Semi-slug – usually only seen in central Europe.
Mr Owen explained: “We were out foraging for the day and I moved back a bit of moss from a log and there it was.
“I had a feeling it was something out of the ordinary. It was certainly something I had never seen before.”
Intrigued, Mr Owen was not sluggish in contacting the National Museum of Wales’ Natural History Department who confirmed it was a UK-first.
It is not the first time that Mr Owen has discovered something lurking on the ground. Last year he found a new species of millipede in Newbridge. Experts are still trying to identify it.
The semi-slug is so-called because of its tiny shell which it cannot retract into.
This particular type of semi-slug did not even have an English name until Mr Owen’s discovery and was known in France and Switzerland as ‘Helicolimace Alsacienne’.
Dr Ben Rowson, Senior Curator of Mollusca at National Museum Wales, said: “Using the museum’s collections, we identified the species as the Alsatian Semi-slug.
“This is a central European mollusc that has never been seen in the UK before. Despite being rather cute, it could be a nuisance since it feeds on other, wood-decaying invertebrates.”