Slow Worm; Anguis fragilis

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Another new species has been seen in our patch of Ninewells wood, it is a Slow worm or Blind worm.

It was spotted and photographed by my son who was camping in the woods this weekend (4/5th August 2018)It was basking on a path and not very far from where I had laid out some old bits of corrugated galvanised iron sheeting about two months ago.

I have placed several bits of gavanised iron sheeting in various places around the wood, always well off of the path and not easily visible to the casual observer. Placing such sheeting in suitable areas can provide shelter and warmth for species like Slow worms and Adders, however they need to be well hidden because what can happen is that someone who is not too clued up will lift the sheet up to see if anything is underneath and then see a snake and drop the sheet which is then quite likely to kill the animal underneath. So if you do lift up a metal sheet to see what may be lurking underneath then it is essential to place it back where you found it very slowly and gently so as to not injure or kill any animals which may have taken up residence.

Slow worms are not slow, when warmed up they can move quite quickly, also they are not blind. heir eyes are quite small but they can see, and along with their sensitive tongue are well equipped to hunt their prey. They feed mainly on grey slugs. They can live for a long time, maybe 30 years. This one was medium sized so not fully grown. They can grow up to 50cm long. Males will fight each other for territory and thus the females this can result in cuts along their length and consequently scars on the undersides of their body.

All British reptiles they are legally protected, so you are not allowed to kill them or capture them or move them.  The population of Slow worms has declined in recent years due to habitat loss. Along with the Common Lizards which I first spotted in our wood last year, I am fairly sure that they would not have lived there when it was a Corsican Pine plantation so this is another new species which has returned to the wood as a result of the management regime. I look forward to seeing an Adder in the not too distant future.

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