Although not a main source of food, pigeons will eat slugs.
Slugs are easy prey and will provide a pigeon with a nutritious meal to supplement its usual diet.
Pigeons and many other species of birds can and do eat slugs.
The slimy garden creatures might seem like an off-putting and disgusting snack to us humans, but for pigeons, the slow-moving invertebrates are an easy-to-grab target that can provide plenty of nutrients to aid and add to their overall health.
Pigeons are more likely to eat slugs in the colder months when their preferred foodstuffs are more scarce.
Are Slugs Safe for Pigeons To Eat?
Healthy slugs make for a healthy snack for pigeons.
Plenty of birds including robins and thrushes and pigeons can eat slugs with no worries at all.
They are considered to be a natural source of food that contains significant nutritional value.
A pigeon munching on a good-sized slug will receive protein, fat (mainly polyunsaturated fatty acid – i.e. good fats), iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, vitamins A, B6, B12, K and folate.
In terms of snacks that they might discover out in the wild, a slug is arguably one of the more preferable and beneficial alternatives to a pigeon’s favored seeds and grains.
Do Pigeons Like Eating Slugs?
Experts feel like this is very much a preference call for each individual bird. Just as humans have their own likes and dislikes when it comes to diet, so too do pigeons.
Perhaps not to the same extent as humans, but studies have shown that birds do have their favorite foods and that they can vary from individual to individual!
What About Slugs that have Swallowed Slug Pellets?
If a slug has eaten slug pellets and is eaten by a pigeon, the same poison that is intended to kill the slug will be ingested by the pigeon.
The acids in a pigeon’s digestive process will neutralize some of the toxicity but the pellets can make the pigeon ill and in severe cases be fatal.
Wildlife experts are against the use of pellets to deal with slugs for the precise reason that the poison is passed onto any creature that eats a slug.
There are various ways to get rid of slugs but a favored way among pigeon owners is to encourage slugs to gather in one place by using citrus peelings.
This makes them even easier prey for pigeons and other birds that appreciate them as food.
What About Snails?
You might wonder about the segue into this question but many people see snails as being slugs with a shell.
Slugs and snails are both mollusks and the only significant morphological difference between them is the snail’s conspicuous shell.
It is the shell that precludes snails from being part of the pigeon diet. Pigeons do not have the physical attributes to break open the shell to get at the meat of the snail.
The pigeon beak is not built to break and cut and is also too small to be able to pick up a snail to smash it against a rock to get at the meat that way, as other birds are able.
The Pigeon Diet
When looking at anything that might be edible to a pigeon, it helps to understand what a pigeon eats.
Wild pigeons, in general, enjoy a diet that includes seeds, grains, berries, nuts, vegetables and fruit along with small insects and spiders.
Domesticated pigeons will have a diet dictated by what their owner provides.
This is usually a seed mix, either proprietary or one the owner makes up themselves and maybe there are occasional treats like popcorn or bananas.
The answer to the burning question of whether or not pigeons eat slugs is that yes, they can and do, but no they aren’t so necessary that you should seek them out to add to their daily diet.
You can rest assured that if your pigeon wolfs down a slug in your garden, it isn’t going to cause any negative effects on their health, but at the end of the day, they are always going to prefer their more traditional diet.