Slow worming our way through a survey

While surveying for otters in the Scottish Highlands, Paul and I happened upon not one but three slow worms (Anguis fragilis). These shy legless lizards have been spotted by few so to find three in one place was a welcomed treat.

A slow worm is not a snake

Despite it's name and appearance, a slow worm is neither a worm nor a snake. They have many names including slow worm, blindworm, and deaf adder however they can move fast when alarmed, are not blind and capable of hearing. Slow worms possess eyelids enabling them to blink, and sometimes their ears are visible. They shed their skin in patches rather completely as a snake would, and are a little smaller than our adders (pictured below), growing up to 50cm (adders up to around 80cm).

Like lizards, slow worms are capable of shedding their tails when under attack, but these do not regenerate completely. They also hibernate like other reptiles, and tend to prefer habitats offering warm spaces for basking, and plenty of hiding places from predators. Slow worms are insectivores, emerging at dusk or after rainfall to hunt. Females are ovoviviparous, incubating their eggs internally and giving birth to live young, a trait they do share with adders.


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