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Slow worms in the compost heap.

PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,601
I was just having a look at my compost heap today, prior to turning it all out, when I spotted slow worms curled up in it. There's obviously no way I can start sticking a fork in. Does anyone know if they will move out soon or will I just have to abandon it and make a new heap?
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  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,176
    Gosh, lucky you.

    It’s my guess, based on the weather round here, they are still unconvinced that spring has arrived and are hibernating. 

    http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/slow-worm

    Says here that they can live to be 20!

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,832
    Wildlife love an open compost heap. I never get to turn mine until it's well composted and damp. I've had grass snakes hatching out of there, bumblebees nesting in it, slow worms, various amphibians, all sorts. There is basically no good time to turn an open heap. Saying that your slow worms will move off when the weather warms up a bit more. Won't be long now, just pick a sunny day and turn it in the early afternoon when they will have warmed up and moved off to find food. I find it best to gradually drag the heap out of the bin with a wide fork and then if it's all clear fork it back in while mixing it well.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,615
    I have a few dalek type compost bins which all have at least half a dozen slow worms each. They are slow to react at first when the lid comes off but eventually they wake up and rapidly burrow down into the bin. If you go slowly they should evacuate the premises safely. Try raking off thin layers at a time and give them somewhere to go until you have refurbished their des-res, maybe a sheet of corrugated tin close-by which they can hide under.
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    We had slowworms in our previous garden. They liked the open heaps, so I just used my hands when it was time to turn the heaps over a bit. Much less chance of harming them that way. And they're not that slow when they've a mind not to be!
  • Mary370Mary370 Limerick, Ireland Posts: 2,003
    I've never come across one 
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    Mary370 said:
    I've never come across one 
    According to Wikipedia, "the slowworm is not native to Ireland, but is believed to have been illegally introduced in the 1970s. It has been sighted only in parts of County Clare, mainly in the Burren region".

  • Mary370Mary370 Limerick, Ireland Posts: 2,003
    I should have suspected as I've been tinkering away in my garden for years and never came across one. .....I googled pictures of them.   They are very different from  common worms. ......think I would have a mild heart attack if I had come across one.....at least now I know they're harmless. That's why I love this forum. ....I am learning so much about all aspects of gardening and wildlife.
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,601
    They are gentle, beautiful creatures. No need for any heart  attacks!
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    I've yet to see any in our "new" damp garden, but the local wildlife expert tells me they, and grass snakes, are in the churchyard.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,832
    Mary370 said:
    I should have suspected as I've been tinkering away in my garden for years and never came across one. .....I googled pictures of them.   They are very different from  common worms. ......think I would have a mild heart attack if I had come across one.....at least now I know they're harmless. That's why I love this forum. ....I am learning so much about all aspects of gardening and wildlife.
    They're very different from common worms because they're reptiles, a type of legless lizard actually. You can tell the difference between a slow worm and a snake because slow worms have eyelids and ears and snakes don't have either. I've no idea how often a slow worm blinks though...
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
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