Species of the month: August - Slow worm

Let us know if you've seen some on our form below

Slow worm by Bruce Shortland

Common Name: Slow worm

Scientific Name: Anguis fragilis

Identification: Often mistaken for a snake the slow worm is in fact a legless lizard. Males are a uniform grey or brown colour, with some sporting blue markings. The slow-worm is much smaller than a snake and has smooth, golden-grey skin. Males are paler in colour and sometimes sport blue spots, while females are larger, with dark sides and a dark stripe down the back.

Diet: Slow moving invertebrates such as slugs, snails and worms.

Behaviour: Slow-worms are cold-blooded and so need to sunbathe before they can move around. They can be found in heathland, tussocky grassland, woodland edges and rides where they can find invertebrates to eat. They are often found in mature gardens and allotments, where they like hunting around the compost heap. The hibernate from October - March.

  • During courtship, the male takes hold of the female by biting her head or neck, and they intertwine their bodies. Courtship may last for as long as 10 hours. 

  • Slow worms are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 which makes it illegal to catch, kill or sell the species.

Where can they be found?:

Dorset Wildlife Trust reserves where you might see slow worms include:

Wildife Gardening Tips:

  • Create a compost heap in your garden- they love the warm atmosphere and will have plenty to eat too.
  • Log piles and stone piles provide somewhere to hibernate and/or bask plus places to find prey!
  • Put a bell on your cat collar as they often catch and kill slow worms
  • Do not use slug pellets in your garden as these will be ingested by slow worms too!

Let us know if you've seen a Slow worm below...

Your Slow worm details
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