Slow worm

In  the spring of 2013, some 500 slow worms were translocated from a development site in Holbrook Lane, Trowbridge, to three sites in Southwick Country Park. Leo Wirtz, the then-leader of the Countryside Team, and his deputy Ali Rasey, set up the move with Windrush Ecology,  who were the environmental consultants at the Holbrook Lane site.

Prior to the move, the Friends of the park and the translocation team built a hibernaculum in each of the three sites: the Arboretum, the copse by the picnic area, and the set-aside at the top of Village Green. Hibernacula are the shelters of  hibernating animals and in this case were made of a mound of logs and rubble with a turf covering.

In the summer of 2016, fifty more slow worms were translocated to the park from St. Mary’s School, Marlborough, which was was due for development.

translocating slow worms

Slow worms (Anguis fragilis), despite their name and appearance, are not worms or snakes; they are legless lizards. Like all lizards, they have eyelids and ear-openings, and they can shed and re-grow their tails. Female slow worms incubate their eggs internally, like common lizards, and give birth to live young in the late summer.

Unlike other British reptiles, slow-worms rarely bask in the open, instead preferring to hide under logs or in composting leaf litter. If you are very lucky, you might even find them in your garden compost heap. At this the time of year, they leave hibernation and begin to look for a mate; keep watch for them, raise the blades on your lawn mower and make them welcome. They are nature’s slug control.

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