Chordates •

Slow worm

(Anguis fragilis)



The slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is a reptile native to western Eurasia. It is also called a deaf adder, a slowworm,a blindworm, or regionally, a long-cripple. These legless lizards are also sometimes called common slowworms. The "blind" in blindworm refers to the lizard's small eyes, similar to a blindsnake (although the slowworm's eyes are functional). Slow worms are semifossorial (burrowing) lizards, spending much of their time hiding underneath objects. The skin of slow worms is smooth with scales that do not overlap one another. Like many other lizards, they autotomize, meaning that they have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators. While the tail regrows, it does not reach its original length. In the UK, they are common in gardens, and can be encouraged to enter and help remove pest insects by placing black plastic or a piece of tin on the ground. On warm days, one or more slow worms can often be found underneath these heat collectors. One of the biggest causes of mortality in slow worms in suburban areas is the domestic cat, against which it has no defense. In Central Europe, the mating season of the species is usually between the end of April and June. The males wrestle often violently around the females, although in most populations they are in the majority. The opponents try to push each other to the ground, bite each other and wrap themselves tightly around each other. When mating, the female is bitten in the head or neck region, while the male introduces his two hemipenes into the female's cloaca. Copulation can take several hours. Sometimes females mate with other males later. The gestation period of the females lasts 11 to 14 weeks; subsequently - between mid-July and the end of August, sometimes even later - they usually wean between eight and twelve young (extreme values: 2 to 28). Slow worms are ovoviviparous; At birth, the 7 to 10 cm long young animals are in a very thin, transparent egg shell, which they pierce immediately afterwards. They initially weigh less than a gram and still have a remnant of the yolk.Juvenile slow worms have a contrasting color scheme and pattern. The top of the body is silvery-white to golden yellow, while the sides and underside are black.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Reptilia
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