The Slow Worm (Anguis Fragilis) is a long legless and harmless lizard.
It is seen frequently on the Local Nature Reserve or in the Shoreham Beach gardens. It is protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.
They are harmless and should not be killed. If attacked, by say a cat, they go rigid, playing dead and can be picked up on a piece of cardboard and taken away to safety. They hibernate in Winter so are best seen from March to October.
They hide under slabs of stone or metal sheets or in compost bins. They live for 20 years on average and have a diet of invertebrates including slugs, worms, snails and spiders.
I put snails in the compost bin for mine. I never find any worms in the compost presumably because the slow worms have eaten them. Their backward curving teeth are perfect for securing slippery or wriggly meals.
During courtship, the male takes hold of the female by biting her head or neck, and they intertwine their bodies. Courtship may last for as long as 10 hours! Females incubate the eggs internally, ‘giving birth’ to an average of eight young in summer.
Like other lizards it can shed its tail and blink with its eyelids. It is a common European reptile and also found in parts of Asia.