Facts about Slow worm lizard

19 Slow worm lizard facts

A legless lizard often mistaken for a snake

Although the slow worm resembles a snake in fact it is a legless lizard. In the course of evolution, these animals have lost their limbs, but the skeleton still contains the remains of the shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle. Due to their slowness, they often fall prey to predators. It also happens that they are mistakenly killed by people who take them for common European adders. Fortunately, the high mortality rate of these animals is compensated by the large number of young born per litter.
Slow worm lizard
They live at the edges of forests, or in the light parts of them.
They prefer deciduous forests rich in various types of hiding places.
It can be distinguished from snakes by their movable eyelids and the presence of ear holes.
Its range includes northern Spain and Portugal, areas of England, all of central Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa.
These animals are found at altitudes up to about 2000 m above sea level.
In the region of Central Europe, slow worms are active from February to October.
Slow worm lizards are most active in the evening and early night.
During the day they usually lie hidden under fallen trunks, boughs or stones. Sometimes it is possible to spot them during the day, when they lie in the sunlight or search for food.
Those lizards usually prey on earthworms, snails, or low-mobility insect larvae.
They are unable to hunt faster-moving animals due to their clumsily and slow movement.
They are slow eaters too.
It takes 10 to 15 minutes for a slow worm lizard to consume its prey.
They do not have good eyesight, they cannot see colors and shades of gray have little contrast.
They are ovoviviparous animals.
In the days leading up to birth, the female can often be seen basking in the sun on a warm road. That's when they often die being run over by a car or bicycle.
The duration of the pregnancy period in slow worm lizards depends on the temperature of the environment but it can be assumed that on average it lasts from 11 to 13 weeks.
6 to 26 young are born in one litter.
The young are born at the turn of July and August, although there are cases of births in later months.
Freshly born lizards are 33 to 35 millimeters long, although larger ones may be born sometimes.
Females become pregnant once every two years and reach sexual maturity at the age of 4.
Females are larger than males. The female's body length can reach 50 centimeters and the male's up to 40.
The tail of the slow worm makes up 2/3 of its body length. When threatened, it can shed its tail to distract predator.
The tail later regrows, however, has neither the original length nor the original shape again.
They can live up to 30 years, even longer in captivity.
Record is held by a male lizard (we do not know at what age it was obtained) that lived at the Copenhagen Zoo from 1892 until 1946.
Slow worm lizards overwinter in groups. They choose sheltered spaces such as burrows as wintering sites. One wintering site can hold up to 100 individuals.
Sometimes they overwinter in the company of other lizards, snakes and amphibians.
Because of their clumsiness and slowness, they often fall prey to birds, hedgehogs, wild boars, weasels, snakes and even toads.
There are many color varieties of this lizard, with the turquoise variety being the most impressive.
Hungry for more facts?

Related content