photo credit: bollin
The slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is one of Britain’s only reptile species though is also found in much of Europe too. Whilst the slow worm looks like a small snake it is in fact a legless lizard. There are two ways we can see this. Firstly, the slow worm is capable of blinking. Snakes are unable to do this as their eyelids are fused. Secondly, if you are able to get a close look at a slow worm you can see the difference between it’s “body” and it’s “tail” where the animal gets noticeably thinner.
Baby slow worms, which are born live, are attractively coloured with a black background an copper stripes down their back. In contrast the adults are generally a dull brown colour and reach around 30-40cm on length.
Slow worms are wide ranging lizards and can be found in many environments. Rough grassland and heathland seem to be their main preferences though they may be encountered elsewhere such as in gardens in summer months.
Slow worms are typically nocturnal and during the day can be found hiding under logs, bark and the likes. Placing some corrugated iron in a wild, grassy field can be a good way to attract them and you will often find a number hiding together in these conditions. From time to time, mainly in warm, wet weather slow worms may come out during the day to hunt.
Being lizards, slow worms enjoy a varied diet consisting of a range of small invertebrates though slugs seem to be a particular favourite of theirs.
Like many lizards, slow worms practise sloughing of the tail if it is pulled hard such as by a predator. It is commonplace to see slow worms with stump tails as they are trying to regrow a lost tail from a nasty encounter.