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Slow worm

This reptile is easy to confuse with a snake, but it is in fact a lizard that has evolved to have no legs. Males and females are differ in that females tend to be larger and have a stripe down the centre of their backs and along their flanks, while males are very silvery in colour.  Looking closely they have eyelids and a forked tongue, which they extend to test the air and use to smell with.

Although slow-worms can be active at night the best time to see them is when they are sunbathing to gain warmth in order to become active and digest their previous meal.

In Scotland they emerge from winter hibernation between the end of March and early April. They share their hibernation site with other slow-worms and after emerging from this frost free environment loose their old skin which is rubbed off in the plants and grasses and can look like an old opaque discarded stocking.

Look under old discarded corrugated iron sheeting or similar refuges, which might be used for warmth, remembering to replace the object exactly as you found it after you have looked. Usually seen in vegetation on damper ground, it feeds on earthworms and slugs.

Slow worms are long lived and animals may live for up to fifteen years or more in the wild.



Vipera berus

A snake with a distinctive black zig-zag pattern down its back. A female can be up to 750mm in length and usually has a brown colour; males are smaller, up to 600mm, and have a light grey colour. In Scotland, both males and females can be black in thei...