Orvet: Your complete guide to understanding this fascinating reptile.

The slowworm, also known as the glass snake, is a legless lizard that helps to fight against pests in the garden. It is harmless and deserves to be protected.

Identifying snakes

The slowworm is distinguished by its pointed snout and its smooth, elongated body. Its scales are shiny, with various shades like brown, gray, or brick color. Females have dark stripes on their belly. To differentiate a slowworm from a snake, observe its head and eyes: if the animal blinks, then it’s a slowworm; otherwise, it’s a snake because the latter has an immobile, transparent eyelid.

Is the slowworm venomous?

The slowworm is a harmless animal, non-venomous.
It resembles a legless lizard.

The dangerousness of its bite

The slowworm is an animal that almost never bites. Its bite is not dangerous as it is non-venomous. It can sacrifice the tip of its tail to escape a predator, just like a lizard. This trick allows it to flee by leaving its still moving tail behind to distract its attacker. However, it can only use this strategy once.

It is important to protect slowworms as they are threatened by intensive agriculture and pesticides. Sometimes mistaken for snakes, these harmless animals are often accidentally injured or killed by people who do not recognize them properly. Slowworm populations are considered to be of little concern in terms of conservation according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Possible maximum size

The male slowworm can reach a maximum length of up to 40 cm, while the female can reach 50 cm. Young slowworms measure between 5 and 10 cm. They live around 20 years, but rarely reach that age in the wild. Reproduction takes place in spring with frequent fights between males. In summer, females lay between 5 and 20 eggs.

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Are lizards and slowworms from the same family?

The Anguis fragilis belongs to the Anguidae family.
This reptile is also known as a limbless lizard.
It looks like lizards but has neither legs nor neck.

Is the lizard really fragile?

The glass snake, also known by the scientific name *fragilis*, may appear fragile due to its ability to lose its tail. However, despite this characteristic, it is not as vulnerable as it seems. Its tail regenerates less effectively than a lizard’s and it moves less quickly than a typical snake.

Location of slowworms in France

Slowworms can be found all over France, except in some European countries. They generally inhabit up to 1200 meters above sea level, sometimes up to 2000m. These reptiles are rarer in some regions of southern Europe.

Residence and living environment

Slowworms like to hide in dark and humid places like compost, piles of leaves or branches, tall grass, or old stumps. They can be spotted in the forest, in a hedge, or in wasteland. At home, they sometimes hide under stones or stored objects.

Slowworm diet

The slowworm is a valuable ally for gardeners as it feeds on various pests such as slugs and snails. It helps protect the vegetable garden from the damage caused by these unwanted creatures. Although it can eat earthworms, its appetite for other parasites makes it a useful ally in the fight against harmful invasions.

Attracting a slowworm to your garden

To attract a slowworm, consider providing a humid environment where it can hide and food. A compost heap is ideal as it is full of insects and worms that are its favorite prey. Additionally, the compost offers cozy warmth for the slowworm in winter. Another tip is to use mulch in your garden, which allows the slowworm to stay close to the slugs threatening your plants.

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Slowworms: legs or not?

Slowworms have evolved without their legs to better dig. Some pythons retain small pieces of ancient limbs. With the help of an X-ray, these remnants could be seen in detail.

Youthful slowworms in my garden: what to do?

– Leave the young slowworms alone to grow.
– Do not disturb their habitat, they will help control pests later on.

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