I have a slug that I need to kidnap. Not an ordinary garden slug; this slug is special. This slug's slime is violently reactive with the atmosphere on my planet, and explodes into flame on contact with the air. The slug breathes oxygen, but doesn't need very much (or else it would suffocate). It also can be knocked out/made high on chemicals. This slug continually grows, with mature young ones being the size of a beaver and ancient ones being the size of a horse's body (excluding leg height). I'm aware this causes problems with the square-cube law, but we'll ignore that for now.

The slug's movement speed is quite slow, maybe about 5 meters an hour, and pouring water on the slime inhibits, but doesn't totally prevent, the reaction--even when totally submerged. Oil-based compounds do not react with the slime, although they can be started on fire by coming into contact with fire; if you could submerge the slime in oil totally without lighting the oil on fire, it wouldn't burn.

This slug lives in an old-growth forest where the trees are fire-resistant, but not fire-proof. Think something like a Jack Pine, where fire not only doesn't harm healthy trees, but is necessary for reproduction. The slug is followed by a trail of fire wherever it goes that burns out on its own relatively quickly (in general, think a day or two). Stones are available in this forest, but not in all locations.

I also have a hero or two who are considering capturing this slug and transporting it with them for at least a few miles. The problem is, they are in the middle of a forest with nothing but a staff, a knife, and a skin for water. They can make additional materials, such as a net, but they cannot bring any others with them from "civilization". How will they restrain and transport the slug while keeping it alive?


In the story heroes can unlock access to magic they can control with their thoughts, but these two heroes are not willing to unlock their access at this point; answers proposing they use this magic to carry the slug away will not be accepted. Additionally, it is OK to say they can't do it; I'm not committed to having it kidnapped just yet.

The whole story can be found at Story-go-round.

  • $\begingroup$ @Hosch250: You could knock it out and keep its rear end under water covered by a layer of oil. $\endgroup$ – nzaman Jul 30 '18 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to post that as an answer; preferably with how the heroes are going to collect this oil :) $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Jul 30 '18 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ can i ask as to why they want said slug? i don't think they would make good pets, and unless your hero's are French eating it would not be the best thing to do. i know they want an unlimited gas heater for their house in winter, it all makes sense now $\endgroup$ – Creed Arcon Jul 30 '18 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Will this slug defend itself, or is it pretty docile, like a regular slug? Would it be possible to just force it into a container of some sort? $\endgroup$ – David K Jul 30 '18 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidK It's docile, but heavy and squishy and flaming. $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Jul 30 '18 at 17:25

You could build a relatively shallow pit fall trap. You don't want to slug to fall very far or it will be injured, but if the hole is only a little deeper than the slug's ability to lift its front then it will do the job. The hole should be undercut so that the slug cannot just climb the vertical wall out.

To get the slug in the hole either use a corralling process, sharpened stakes of fire resistant wood for example, or bait hung above the hole and a lot of patience - a slow slug is going to take time to get into the trap regardless. The slowness of the slugs is also an advantage since you can build the trap relatively close to a known slug without it getting away from you. You will need to observe your prey for a while to work out how deep the hole needs to be.

If you have time to move your now captive slug then you build a path of least resistance: dig out one side of the trap and wait for the slug to follow the path. Keep bait and/or something pointy handy to encourage its acceptance of the path.

If you need the slug elsewhere in a hurry lard is your friend. For a little while at least you can cover the slug in tallow to exclude oxygen and prevent its combustion long enough to take it away. To transport it you'll want a tub sling of some kind, probably made of oiled canvas, deep enough to keep the slug submerged in fat. You can set such a sling up on shafts and have a pair of horses, fore and aft, carry it attached to an appropriate harness wherever you need to go.

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    $\begingroup$ That would trap it, yes, but the question also specifies moving the slug several miles $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Jul 30 '18 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Ruadhan2300 Oops, fixed it. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 30 '18 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ I’m worried pit-fall traps won’t work on creatures that can stick to ceilings, even if it is undercut. I suppose a much larger slug would have a harder time with that though because of the larger mass:foot area ratio $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Jul 30 '18 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Dubukay Given it's slow rate of motion even if it can climb out it will take long enough to do so that the protagonists can get set up to lard and bag it as it clears the edge. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 30 '18 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is the one that will work best. Our protagonists can easily carry a tub of lard between them. $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Aug 5 '18 at 3:03

Treating this as an otherwise ordinary giant slug

You need some bits and pieces:

  • A barrel of beer
    (Not usually available in the middle of a forest)
  • A barrel of salt or sharp rocks
    (Rocks you can gather, salt not so much)
  • A pointy stick
    (This at least should be easy)

The biggest problem is speed, your slug is too slow. Beer makes gastropods move faster, hence it being banned from snail racing events. It doesn't really make that much difference in the grand scheme of things but a drunk slug is a happy slug.

Lay track boundaries of sharp rocks or salt, neither of which gastropods are fond of moving over. Salt is more effective but also more expensive and harder to get in such quantity.

The pointy stick is for general encouragement.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting. I could add a salt mine in the mountains not too distant. $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Jul 30 '18 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ You can lay the salt on strips of bark etc. That way, you'll be able to reuse the salt further along the path. No wastage 😉 $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Jul 30 '18 at 15:05

You have a Staff, that should be enough. It's a slug, I'm going to assume not terribly bright.

Use your staff to prod it and goad it, it'll turn away, if it doesn't, plant the staff in its way and it'll have to turn.
In this way, guide and goad it down the path to your destination.

What? You're in a hurry? 5 meters an hour isn't good enough? you want to get there within a month and a half? Uh...


What you want to do is find a furry beast of some description. A Squirrel or maybe a possum. Kill it, Skin it, Tan it as best you can, soak the skin in water, particularly the fur. snatch up a small slug (say: a few inches long at most) and put it in the fur. it'll smoulder but leather/flesh is really good at not burning. especially when it's damp.

Basically you have a wet bag you can carry.
Now start running.

When it starts to seriously smoulder, drop it, eject the slug onto the dirt. soak the skin again, put the slug back in the bag and continue.

A few miles can be covered easily in an afternoon on foot. An hour or two at most with breaks.
Less if you're running most of the way.

Once you get there, what you want is a stone basin, a dried up fountain would do great, or a horse-trough.
Dump your slug in that. line the perimeter of the interior with rock-salt to deter it escaping, leave some leafmould or something for it to eat.
Enjoy a cold beer while you cool off after your epic run.

Mission Accomplished.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm. So they make a sort of sled from wood and leather and drag it over the ground? FWIW, I can walk 4 mi/hr with no breaks and no water, so I can imagine our heroes can. I've heard that professional bushmen can do up to 6 mi/hr. $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Jul 30 '18 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ I had in mind literally making a water-soaked handbag out of a squirrel and carrying a small slug in that while you run. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Jul 30 '18 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ Questions of this nature tend to generate "perfect solution" answers when "good enough" is sufficient. You don't need convenient, you don't need ideal. you need to get an incendiary slug from point A to point B as a one-off :P $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Jul 30 '18 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ If you want a bigger slug (the beaver sized mature specimen you describe) then you may need a bigger satchel and something to pick up the slug with. I suggest using the fire-resistant leaves you mention elsewhere as "salad tongs" and a deer or something similar as a source of skin. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Jul 30 '18 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ This is the most metal of the answers so far, and also the most inventive. +1 $\endgroup$ – Korthalion Jul 31 '18 at 8:26

They can use the fire resistant trees.

They cut branches with their knives and make a little cage to kidnap a baby slug. They make small holes in some branches and can put other branches inside and use the bark to make some rope to attach everything.

They place a cage really near the slug and they throw some rock at it to make it run slowly in the cage. They use large branches that cross the cage as a support point to lift it and stay away from the fire. If the fire spreads to close to their hands, they use some new large branches as supports.

They will lose some time building the cage, like maybe half a day, but will gain so much more time in the end. They need to travel a few miles, take for example 2 miles (3218.69 meters). The slug runs 5 meters per hour, so it will takes almost 644 hours to go to their destination if they try to make the slug runs by itself. But, with the cage, even lifting a slug the size of a beaver (30kg), they still can walk 1-2 miles per hour easily and go to their destination in only 1-2 hours.

With the knives and the fire resistant trees, you have everything already to do it in one day.


Slugs emit two kinds of mucus, one kind from their feet and another kind from the rest of their body. I assume the explosive kind only comes from its feet, or the slug would be entirely on fire.

So, for an exciting catch, I'm thinking they could take two very long sticks and bind them together at one end with vines or some kind of rope, and then put a short, fat stick in between them at the joint, bound to only one of the sticks so that when they bring the sticks together they make a tiny little triangle at the end with the smaller stick. (The three sticks would be shaped like a long, skinny 'A' when together.)

What they can do is sneak up on the slug from the side, and try to wrangle it by catching its protruding eyeballs in the little triangle. They would have to be pretty fast, because slugs can retract their eyeballs for protection. So maybe if they got on either sides of it and each held one of the big sticks, and then once they get the stalk of the slug's eye into the corner of the two big sticks, they can run towards each other and join the sticks so that the stalk of the slug eye is squeezed and passes through the small triangle. The triangle should be smaller than the eye of the slug so that the eye won't be able to retract. Now, if the sticks are good and long, they'll have enough distance between them and the slug to remain safe, and the slug will be forced to follow them around because it doesn't want to have its eyes pulled.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding.SE! Interesting idea to catch a giant slug. It won't stand a chance this way if the heroes manage to pull this off. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 30 '18 at 17:55

Scare the slug.

Some slugs have a shell in wich they hide when in danger. Grab a few cat sized slugs, put them in a bag made of one of the heroes shirts and get them where you want.

While hiding the wouldn't produce their slime, since it's use is for locomotion. Keep shaking the bag to keep them inside their shell.

A horse sized slug and his surroundings would stay at constant state of inmolation. Capture him would need alot more resources.

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    $\begingroup$ I think those are called snails. :) The reason there aren't constant forest fires is that a lot of the foliage is fire resistant to a point, like the giant redwoods in California. The slugs help with keeping the undergrowth clear. They evolved together to be a mutually supportive system. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jul 30 '18 at 14:44

Grab a forked branch.

Put a baby slug on top.

Carry like a torch. Watch for falling slim.

If the slug fall...take it again.

You can use your unlimited torch to travel by night too.


Lure it to a cliff near their destination using fruit. Then create a landslide to bury it. If there is no cliff near their destination, lure it to the destination, then drop small rocks on it from a tree.

Try to push bigger rocks to pin the slug under them. Further transportation of the slug may be too difficult.

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    $\begingroup$ They don't want it dead :(. $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Jul 30 '18 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Robert! If you have a moment, please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jul 30 '18 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Hosch250, use small rocks, the slug is big and then push bigger rocks onto it. For the land slide, choose a location with sand or gravel $\endgroup$ – Robert Jul 30 '18 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ AKA, bank the fire... $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 30 '18 at 14:31

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