Slow worms: the legless lizard

This common legless lizard is no snake

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Many people who spot a slow worm will assume that it is a snake, and they could be forgiven for doing so. This is in fact a legless lizard, and can be found in gardens across Europe and some parts of Africa and Asia. Slow worms have a handy ability to shed their tail when they are startled or attacked, and when this happens, a new tail will grow back in a matter of weeks. This disconnect happens when it is threatened, in a process called caudal autonomy. Once shed, the tail wriggles for several minutes, creating the perfect distraction to keep confused predators away.

Rather than laying eggs like many other lizard species, female slow worms actually give birth to around eight live young per fertilisation. This follows a courtship, initiated by a male biting a female’s neck. A slow worm takes around eight years to reach its full adult length.




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