A little slow on the uptake
Country Life UK|September 23, 2020
A little slow on the uptake
More likely to give you a knowing blink than a death stare, the gentle slow worm is actually a lizard that has long been misunderstood and terrorised for its snake-like appearance, says Simon Lester
Simon Lester

AN encounter with a slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is always a pleasant experience for me, as they are gentle creatures that hang about long enough to allow you to have a really good look at them. Saying that, however, the slow worm can move quickly if alarmed, retreating backwards or forwards into its burrow or loose vegetation.

This fascinating creature is actually a lizard that, over time, has evolved to not need legs, giving it a snake-like appearance. This led to the name ‘deaf adder’ and means that, sadly, they’re often killed out of ignorance. An endearing trait of being a lizard is that, when you look into their small eyes—unlike the death stare of a snake—a slow worm will give you a knowing blink. Common throughout the British Isles, with the exception of Ireland, slow worms are yet another species in steady decline, despite having been protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (as have all our reptiles) from intentional killing, injury and selling since 1981.


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September 23, 2020