Orkney Image Library

<< back
Slatero science
The Orkney Image Library

Help us get organised! If we haven't correctly identified which area this picture is best listed under, please select it below and click Done!

view a random pic
Slatero science

This common Woodlouse or Slatero decided to trundle across my kitchen floor last night (11 Feb 2015). When I approached, it put on quite an impressive spurt and I timed it across two 5" squares of pattern on the floor-covering at 3 seconds. 10" per 3 sec = 200" per min = 12,000" or 1,000 ft per hour. Very roughly rounded-up this is about 0.2 mph.
I idly wondered what speed it would be doing if it were a car. The slatero was half an inch long (excluding feelers); a car might be 15 feet long, ie 360 times longer. Applying that factor to the speed, we get 0.2 x 360 = 72 mph. Impressive indeed! Faster than a Cheetah.
All right, my reasoning is full of holes. If the slatero had reminded me of a tour-coach instead of a car its relative speed calculated in the same way would have been faster still by a huge margin - which is of course ridiculous. But I like the idea of a humble slatero leaving the world's fastest land mammal gasping in its wake.
Incidentally, although only 6 pairs of legs appear in my photo, the slatero (a crustacean) had 7 pairs.
The chief food of Woodlice is unsurpisingly said to be rotting wood. I wonder why we have so many in 'treeless' Orkney.
Picture added on 15 April 2015 at 21:59
OK, as an Orcadian I would retrace the slateroo's trail and find its home. Then stomp on all the babies/eggs and get the flame-thrower on it. How dare they eat precious wood!
Added by Graham Halcro on 16 May 2015
Come, come Graham, don't over-excite yourself. Rotten wood isn't very precious even in Orkney and is better broken down into a more 'useful' form of organic matter.
Added by Ian Hourston on 21 May 2015
<< back


London Zoo seal-acquisition project #16London Zoo seal-acquisition project #15William Papley 1920Stromness harbour with herring fleet. ca 1900Stromness from Brinkie's Brae ca 1900Stromness herring workers ca 1900Stromness, tinker encampmentStromness Pierhead c. 1900Stromness c. 1900Pier Arts Centre