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Slow worms

Identify It >   Reptile Section >   Slow worms >

Scientific name:  Anguis fragilis

Size:  Grows to approximately 50cm in length

Distribution:  Found throughout Scotland, England and Wales.  Absent from Northern Ireland

Months seen:  March to October

Food:  Slugs, spiders and beetles

Habitat:  Rough grassland

Special features:  Slow worms, or blind worms as they are sometimes called, look a lot like snakes, but is in fact they are legless lizards

The body is almost the same thickness from head to tail, with the tip of the tail being blunt.  Slow worms are covered in tiny scales which give them a metallic appearance.  The males are usually brown with a copper or pink flush.  Female slow worms and juveniles are a more golden colour, with a dark line running along the back.  Some slow worms have faint blue markings along their body.

The head or the slow worm is short and rounded.  The eyes have rounded pupils and they're equipped with eyelids (unlike snakes which have no eyelids.  The mouth has backward facing, pointed teeth, and the tongue is notched rather than forked like a snake.

Slow-worms generally mate between March and June, and the young are born from late July to September.  Like other reptiles the Slow-worm produces eggs.  But the Slow-worm is 'ovoviviparous', which means that the eggs hatch either as they are laid or within a few minutes after the birth.  The outside of the egg consists of just a thin, fragile membrane.

The baby slow-worms are a beautiful golden colour, and are able to fend for themselves straight away.

During the winter slow worms hibernate in garden compost heaps or underground.

NOTE: It's a criminal offence to kill or injure any of the UK's native reptiles.  Slow worms are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.  It is an offence to kill, harm, injure, sell or trade them in any way.

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