Anguis fragilis

Where to find them 

Distribution map of slow-worms in the UKThe slow-worm is often found in gardens and is widespread throughout the British Isles; it is naturally absent from Ireland.

Identification

Slow-worms are lizards, though they are often mistaken for snakes. Unlike snakes they have eyelids, a flat forked tongue and can drop their tail to escape from a predator.

Slow-worms have a shiny appearance. Males are a greyish brown and females are brown with dark sides. Some females possess a thin line down the back. Juvenile slow-worms are very thin and are initially around 4cm long. Juveniles have black bellies and gold or silver dorsal sides, sometimes with a stripe running along the length of the body.

Lifecycle

Unlike other British reptiles, slow-worms rarely bask in the open, instead preferring to hide under logs or in compost heaps. Slow-worms feed on slow-moving prey, particularly small slugs. Like common lizards, female slow-worms incubate their eggs internally and ‘give birth’ in the late summer.

Protection

Slow-worms are protected by law in Great Britain against being deliberately killed, injured or sold/traded in any way.


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