IN our family we frequently argue about the first day of spring.
I like to claim March 20, which also happens to be my birthday, whilst my children, refusing to allow me such distinction, insist on the 21st.
Whatever the correct answer, my favourite season is now upon us, and I have been spending every spare hour on the neglected allotment we have just acquired, getting it ready for planting.
Once the seedlings I have been nurturing are in place, there will be the inevitable question about what to do with the slugs that think my hard work has been entirely for their benefit.
It has been estimated that the average garden contains around 20,000 slugs and snails.
Slug bait is a tempting solution, but used incorrectly it poses a real risk to our pets, and is one of the commonest causes of poisoning we see in practice.
If large quantities of slug pellets are left out, your pet is at risk of consuming a toxic amount.
Signs, which develop within 1-3 hours of ingestion, start with twitching and restlessness.
Affected animals may salivate profusely and if left untreated, begin to show laboured breathing and fits.
Although the condition can be fatal, most animals will recover if treated promptly so urgent veterinary attention is essential.
There is no specific antidote, but treatment includes preventing absorption of toxins from the digestive tract, sedatives to control the neurological signs and intravenous fluids.
Worryingly, slug bait also finds its way into our water ways, so whether you have pets or not, it makes sense to look at more natural alternatives.
By doing so, you will also help to protect one of the slug’s natural predators – the hedgehog.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll get my spade. And the beer? No, that’s not for the slugs!