Wildlife focus: The slow worm – neither a worm, nor slow!

A slow worm making the most of the heat and insects found in an allotment compost heap

A common resident of our allotments are slow worms. Often found in long grass or enjoying the damp warmth of compost heaps, these legless lizards primarily feed on invertebrates and can live up to 20 years old!

The slow worm is found throughout most of the UK (but not Northern Ireland) and has special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, as well as being designated a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

Slow cam

Did you know?

  • Like other reptiles, slow worms hibernate, usually from October to March.
  • From May, the mating season begins with males become aggressive towards each other.
  • During courtship, the male takes hold of the female by biting her head or neck, and they intertwine their bodies – the mating process can last up to 10 hours!
  • Females incubate the eggs internally, ‘giving birth’ to an average of eight young in summer.

So, the next time you’re strimming or digging out your compost heap – take care, there might be a not-so-slow slow worm there!

For more information about slow worms, visit The Wildlife Trust.

Published by Nick

A plotholder on Craven Vale Allotment since 2010. I'm particularly proud of my expanding vineyard, which in a good year creates litres and litres of red and white wine! I love our site for the fabulous views over the sea and Downs, as well as the wealth of wildlife that can be found here. It really is a bit of countryside in the heart of the city. I feel very lucky to have my plot.

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