Contact-rehydration in terrestrial slugs involves a specific drinking behaviour during which water is rapidly absorbed through the integument of the foot. When dehydrated slugs were placed on wet filter paper containing 14C-inulin, they displayed the characteristic drinking posture and absorbed both water and 14C-inulin. Samples of haemolymph from dehydrated slugs after 12 min of contact-rehydration contained about 6 micrograms of 14C-inulin 100 mg-1 of haemolymph (0.24 mmol l-1 14C-inulin in the substrate). The haemolymph of hydrated slugs however contained no detectable radioactivity after 12 min on the filter paper. Electron microscopy revealed that the intercellular spaces between the epithelial cells of the foot were reduced in dehydrated slugs, but were rapidly enlarged during contact-rehydration. It is concluded that contact-rehydration in terrestrial slugs is mediated by bulk flow of water through an epithelial paracellular pathway in the integument of the foot.

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