Mail from DKG
“At the end of the last work party we made our first check of the year on the slow worm mats . The small coppice in Kestrel Field, and the Arboretum were checked; not expecting to see any this early in the year, we were pleasantly surprised to find a solitary slow worm warming itself under one of the mats. This was the same mat where we found the grass snakes in 2017. Hopefully more will be found as the summer approaches.”
Pictures by DKG and Suzanne Humphries
The tussocky grass in the set-aside at the top of Kestrel Field, where we photographed this specimen, is ideal slow worm hibernation territory. They prefer to hibernate underground, in mammal burrows or natural crevices and the Kestrel set-aside is full of field vole and wood mouse burrows.
Generally slow worms emerge in April so this one is early, woken by the unseasonable warm weather. It is probably a male, the males emerge first, and it will spend the rest of the year near its hibernation site.
Our records suggest that he will probably find a female nearby and they will mate during the summer. The young will be born in the autumn, hatching from the eggs either as they are born or just minutes afterwards. The babies are tiny replicas of the adults, entirely independent of their parents, and they set about the business of being a slow worm straight away.
In the United Kingdom, the slow worm and all other native British reptile species. have been granted protected status under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
If reptiles are your thing, here is another one: