Are they snakes or worms?
Neither! Slow worms are in fact legless lizards!
Unlike snakes, slow worms have eyelids so they can blink. They can also drop their tails to escape predation - something lizards can do but snakes can’t. Their heads are the same width as their bodies and they are very shiny. Snakes on the other hand have distinctly broader heads.
Why are they in my garden?
Unfortunately for slow worms their snake like appearance often lands them in trouble when spotted in the garden. These versatile little lizards are well adapted to survive in lots of different habitats so a wild garden provides ideal feeding grounds! Slow worms feed on slow moving bugs, like slugs. They are completely harmless to humans and pets and can even help control garden pests.
Are they poisonous?
No. Slow worms are in no way harmful to humans or other animals.
If you are worried about a reptile in your garden, please do not disturb them. If you do, you may be breaking the law!
Having trouble identifying a slow worm?
If you find a slow worm in your garden, or would like a confirmed ID of a reptile, then why not send us a photo on Twitter to @DorsetWildlife or post it on our Facebook page. We'll let our experts take a look and endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible with a positive ID.
Remember, slow worms are protected by law! You may be prosecuted if you deliberately kill, injure, sell or trade a slow worm or any other reptile in any way.
For more information on slow worms and other reptiles in the UK or free full colour reptile ID resources, visit Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.