Despite its name, the slowworm is a lizard with no legs that happens to look like a snake, and is not, in fact a worm. Neither is it poisonous, although it is sometimes confused with the adder, which is a real snake. Latin fans should know that the scientific name for a slowworm is Anguis fragilis, should you spot one and wish to note it down in a lizard spotting book or directory.

Bodily functions

The slowworm is around 12 to 20 inches long (30-50cm), with smooth, grey-green or brown skin, a small head, and - this is crucial - eyelids. Snakes do not have eyelids, but lizards, like the slowworm, do. If it looks like a snake, but it blinks in surprise when it sees you, it's a slowworm. Don't worry if you come face-to-face: it won't bite. Lady slowworms have a dark stripe on their underbelly, and have generally darker skin than males overall. Like other lizards and snakes, it uses a forked tongue to sense it's way around by smell, taste and air pressure.

Like other lizards, if a predator has the slowworm's tail in its grasp, the crafty lizard will shed its tail in order to escape. The tail will regrow over time, though not as long as the original - but still, a short, stumpy tail is better than being eaten, and no doubt provides for an interesting talking point at lizard cocktail parties. Being a nocturnal animal means the slowworm has a lot of time to spend at cocktail parties, or perhaps to spend foraging for slugs, earthworms and insects, which are its natural diet. That, and canapés.

At home with the Slowworm

Slowworms are found in moist, shady areas with loose soil, as they like to be able to burrow and hide during the day. They are found all over Europe and north-west Asia. Being cold blooded, they normally spend the daytime resting, though if they are particularly cold they are known to come out into the sunlight in order to raise their body temperature. If a slowworm finds it's way onto rural or tended land, they will quite happily live under piles of rubbish, paving stones, or in your compost heap. If you want to encourage slowworms to live in your garden, leave some messy corners or an overgrown rockery for them to make their home in. As a rule, Mother Nature likes things natural, so let your garden run wild to attract some wildlife!

These little lizards don't bite, they eat slugs, and the will happily live in compost. They're a gardener's best friend! Slowworms hibernate over winter, in underground burrows. When the weather starts to hot up around spring time, first the males and then females come out for a long summer of lazing in the sun, and best of all: breeding.

Hot lizard rumpy-pumpy

The sex life of a slowworm is, well, slow. The male of the species is into that rough, kinky sex that you sometimes read about in the tabloids. It grabs the young strumpet slowworm by the neck, and does then his business. Being lizards, the female slowworm produces eggs, which she incubates within her body, for a period of around 90 to 100 days. During this time, the male, knackered, sits around, presumably watches some Sky Sports and drinks a beer, maybe has another one of those canapés.

The little baby slowworms grow inside an egg sac over the summer, and are born during September / October time. Incubating eggs internally and giving birth like this has a technical term, we can say that slowworms are ovo-viviparous. You can safely forget this word now.

Resources and Bibliography

  • Enchanted Learning: Slow Worm
  • Virginia's Garden: Slow Worms

Some feedback

  • BlueDragon says re Slowworm: Nice wu. I think you might find it's the grass snake that is commonly confused as an adder though, they are quite scaly and very similar, unlike the smooth slowworm.
  • BuffcorePhil sez Good point. But if I spot a snake in my garden, then good Lord it's a snake IT'S A SNAKE IT'S A SNAKE IT'S PROBABLY POSIONOUS OH GOD OH GOD!

Slow"worm` (?), n. [AS. slawyrm; the first part is probably akin to sle�xa0;n to strike, the reptile being supposed to be very poisonous. See Slay, v. t., and Worm.] Zool.

A lecertilian reptile; the blindworm.


© Webster 1913.

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