The slow worm (also known as blindworm or blind worm, scientific name: Anguis fragilis) is a limbless lizard.
The skin of the varieties of slow worm is smooth with scales that do not overlap one another. Like all other lizards, slow worms autotomize, meaning that they have the ability to shed their tails in order to escape predators. The tail regrows, but seldom to its former length.
These reptiles are active during the day and like to bask in the sun. They are carnivorous and, because they feed on slugs and worms, they can often be found in long grass.
The females give birth to live young (viviparous birth). In the days leading up to birth the female can often be seen basking in the sun on a warm road.
They are common in gardens and can be encouraged to enter and help remove pest insects by placing black plastic or a piece of tin on the ground. On warm days one or more slow worms will often be found underneath these radiators of heat.
Although these lizards are often mistaken for snakes, there are a number of features that differentiate them from snakes. The most important is they have small eyes with eyelids that blink, a feature not found in snakes. They also have a notched tongue rather than a forked tongue, a common feature of snakes. They shed their skin in patches like other lizards, rather than the whole skin as most snakes do.
Adult slow worms grow to be about 50 cm long and are known for their exceptionally long life; it has been said that a slow worm is the longest living lizard. The female often has a stripe along the back and the male may have blue spots.
- Anguis fragilis Linnaeus, 1758
- Anguis fragilis fragilis Linnaeus, 1758
- Anguis fragilis colchicus (Nordmann, 1840)
The slow worm (Anguis fragilis fragilis) is found all over Europe.
Anguis fragilis colchicus is found in south-eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Iran.