British Wildlife Wiki

The Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) is commonly mistaken for a Snake, it is however, a legless lizard.

Slow Worm - WWC Archives


Slow Worms are very often mistaken for Snakes even though they are Legless Lizards, their eyes can blink and they have a primitive hip bone of Lizards.  Spending vast amounts of their time hidden away in burrows or amongst leaf litter these Lizards are not often seen, they are diurnal in nature and feed on small invertebrates such as slugs and earthworms. During the winter months they hibernate in underground burrows.


These Lizards are not dissimilar to Snakes in their appearance at a glance, however there are distinguishing features, unlike Snakes, Slow Worms have eyelids and are able to blink.  Reaching lengths of 12-14 inches, these are not large creatures at all.  Their overall colour is often a grey/brown leading to copper red or even a tanned colour in males, females are simply brown/grey with some individuals turning to a tanned colour. In Britain adult males often have small blue spots. Juveniles have a black stripe running from the top of the head, down the spine to the tip of the tail, this may fade in to adulthood, their underbellies are also black but may get lighter with age.

Like most Lizards, Slow Worms can drop their tails if molested, this can result in a stump at the vent.


These Lizards tend to inhabit embankments at the sides of roads, heathland and open woodland.  They are frequently seen on allotments under corrugated iron sheets and in compost heaps. They prefer to bask in the morning and hide for most of the day, they will spend their day hidden under leaf litter or under discarded sheets of metal/carpet etc. here they search for their prey.

Though their habitat ranges across most of England, most reports of appearance come from the south and south eastern parts of the country.


Slow Worms are viviparous, giving birth to live young in the Autumn.




Slow Worms (Anguis fragilis)


Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) and tadpoles


Slow Worms (Anguis fragilis)-0


Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) thats pregnant


Slow Worms (Anguis fragilis)-1


Slow Worms, Adders and a Toad