Glowing Slug Blood Experiment





Introduction: Glowing Slug Blood Experiment

About: Bill Nye the Science guy is my Hero... that and Bear Grylls...would be cool if they combined to become Bear Nye the Wilderscience Guy using science and technology to drink his own pee.

This is a simple experiment that demonstrates biology and florescence. You can make slug blood glow bright green/blue using a standard UV light. All you need are three things:

1. A SLUG!

2. Rubbing Alcohol

3. A UV light

Human blood is made up of proteins that hold IRON atoms. The iron has a natural attraction or affinity for oxygen molecules, that is how our blood "carries" O2! If you have ever seen iron rust (due to oxygen) then you can understand why our blood is bright red when it's oxygenated.

Human blood is called BLOOD.......duh! But slugs/snails and most other mollusks have blood that is called HEMOCYANIN. The proteins in slug blood carry COPPER atoms instead of iron. They too attract oxygen. The copper gives the blood a bluish green color. Interesting thing about copper atoms is they fluoresce under UV light.

When the copper atoms are "charged up" with high energy ULTRAviolet light, the coppers' electrons jump to a higher energy state but then hop back down to their normal states, when this happens a packet of light called a photon is released to sorta balance everything out. Long story short: UV light goes in, Blue/green light comes out!

Step 1: The Experiment

  • First, go find yourself a garden slug. These things can be pretty bad pests and ruin a gardener's hard work, so I wouldn't feel too bad about donating their lives to science.
  • You can freeze them to kill them.
  • Next (this part is not for the squeamish) place the slug in a zip loc bag full of rubbing alcohol and squish and squash him up real good, this releases the blood into a solution. It also makes for a great stress reliever. Pour the solution through a coffee filter into a clear container.
  • Last, MAKE IT GLOW using any UV light. I use a cheap flashlight version.

P.S. I was thinking of making a "slug blood lamp of science", how cool would that be? Kinda creepy but cool!



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    Although this seems weird, this could be handy in the future for some projects. Thanks for letting us know!

    Very interesting project, didn't know slugs could do that.

    I can't squish a slug for it though, they're too cute (I have pet slugs and snails).

    Just seeing a comment where it was thought UV would show up human bodily fluids hence blood. It is true, but it is not human blood that flouresces with UV but another human bodily fluid.

    This is an awesome instructable! I love the blue color of the glow and that you can make it with slugs and I'm going to try to work this into a project based learning class.

    Out of curiosity, what is the difference between the slug blood fluorescent color and say human blood? I thought UV lights can be used to detect human bodily fluids as well. Obviously you wouldnt want to use human blood for the project, but is there a difference in how the two types of blood fluorecese under UV light?

    2 replies

    Thanks! And yeah human blood doesn't fluoresce under uv light..... In crime scenes CSI types will spray "luminol" on potential blood stains and they may glow under regular light. They may use UV light and other wavelengths or "alternate light sources" as the call it to see fluids and stains easier by contrast etc. long story short if you suspended human blood in rubbing alcohol it would not glow under UV light! From what i know hemoglobin (the main protein that makes blood) ABSORBS uv light so it would look black :-(

    Ah! Thank you, that was a very illuminating answer

    This is extremely gross but its also extremely awesome at the same time!

    Thank you! That means a lot to me coming from a PRO!