The slow worm isn’t actually a worm, it’s a legless lizard. Most people also mistake the weird creature for a snake, but a closer look will reveal that the slow worm has blinking eyelids – a common characteristic if lizards. Snakes do not. There are several other features that separate the slow worm from snakes . Slow worms have visible ears, snakes do not; slow worms shed their skin in patches, snakes shed the whole skin; like other lizards, the slow worm can shed it’s tail as a defense mechanism (the tail grows back, only smaller); and lastly, the pattern of the slow worms ventral scales is completely different from that of a snake.
The slow worm (Anguis fragilis), also spelled, slowworm or slow-worm, is also called blindworm or blind worm. The slow worm grows to around 50 centimeters (19.68 inches) and it has shiny, smooth skin that may be a greenish brown to grayish color. Female slow worms have a striped spine and dark sides, while the male is lighter with blue spots on its topside. The slow worm has a small head and it uses its forked tongue to sense smells.
Slow worms prefer areas where they can hide such as loose or sandy soil. They also prefer, moist, warm, shaded areas. Slow worms are common in meadows and farmland throughout Europe and northwestern Asia. Unlike worms that will dry out and die from excessive sun exposure, slow worms welcome the sun. They can be spotted sunbathing during the day to increase their body temperature. Slow worms might also feed during the day. With the exception of the nocturnal earthworm (a treat for the slow worm), the slow worm might hunt for insects, slugs, and arachnids during the day to fill its belly. The slow worm is a carnivore and open to just about any slow moving animal.
Slow worms reproduce from eggs, which develop in the female’s body. The eggs develop for around 3 months. In some cases, the eggs will take another 5-10 days to develop. Once hatched, the baby slow worm can expect to live a long life. In fact, the slow worms life expectancy is longer than any other lizard in the world. The slow worm can live up to 30 years in the wild and up to 54 years in captivity. The oldest slow worm ever recorded was male and lived in Copenhagen Zoo from 1892-1946. Copenhagen Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe.
All About Worms is always free, always reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP Publishing.