Slow-worm

Anguis fragilis

  1. Wildlife
  2. Reptiles
  3. Slow-worm

About

Despite their name and appearance, slow-worms are neither worms nor snakes, but are in fact lizards - they're given away by their ability to shed their tails and blink with their eyelids. They can be found in heathland, tussocky grassland, woodland edges and rides: anywhere they can find invertebrates to eat and a sunny patch in which to sunbathe. They are often found in mature gardens and allotments, where they like hunting around the compost heap. However, if you have a cat, you are unlikely to find them in your garden as cats predate them. Like other reptiles, slow-worms hibernate, usually from October to March.

How to identify

Much smaller than snakes, with smooth, golden-grey skin. Males are paler and sometimes have blue spots, while females are larger with dark sides and a dark stripe down the back.

Where to find it

Widespread, found throughout the country, except for most Scottish islands and absent from Northern Ireland and most of the Channel Islands.

Habitats

When to find it

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

The loss of our heathland and grassland habitats through human activity threatens the survival of our reptiles. The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with planners, developers and farmers to ensure these habitats are protected by fostering Living Landscape schemes: networks of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can help: look after slow-worms and other reptiles in your garden by leaving piles of logs for hibernating beneath. In partnership with the RHS, The Wildlife Trusts' Wild About Gardens initiative can help you plan your wildlife garden.

Species information

Common name
Slow-worm
Latin name
Anguis fragilis
Category
Reptiles
Statistics
Length: 30-40cm Weight: 20-100g Average Lifespan: up to 20 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.