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Swimming slow-worm

Hi. I have just found a slow-worm swimming and/or floating in my slimline water butt which has a tight-fitting lid. After I hauled it out, it slid away to shelter in a small patch of long grass.

It was definitely a slow-worm (golden sub-adult with black stripe along its back) not a snake.

There are two points of entry into the water butt. The first is through the tap at the bottom, but because this is normally shut I don't think that's how it got in. The second entrance is through the downpipe which descends from the garage roof and goes through the butt lid. Behind and above the butt there is a dense growth of ivy so the little fellow could have climbed to the roof then followed the guttering to the downpipe and thus into the butt itself.

My question is: how long could a slow-worm survive in such a place, with sheer walls, nowhere to rest and little to eat? Does anyone know?

Sorry, being short of time during the 'rescue' I did not take any snaps.



  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,657
    found one on Tenby beech last week ,used to have lots in the garden but next doors CAT killed them all.
  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    Slow worms are legless lizards (I know, we have all known a few of those in our time) and I don't think they are suited to an aquatic lifestyle. Back in the day when it was OK to do that sort of thing, my teenage brother used to keep them as pets in a vivarium. I don't recall them being particularly fond of water. I think this one was looking for a drink and got lost.

  • jean6jean6 Posts: 157

    never seen one in cambridge.. image

  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    I only found out that we had them when the cat brought a live one home,proud as punch, for me to see. I put it back in the field, much to the cat's disappointment.image

  • PeterE17PeterE17 Posts: 129

    Thanks for you responses all. Alan, I'm sorry to hear about the bad cat next to you. Jean, it's a shame you have no slow-worms in Cambridge, but I don't think they go for cities very much, they need lots of space. And Waterbutts, yes I agree my little friend was lost but I would imagine he fell down the downpipe by accident rather than design.

    Now the bad news. Today I found a dead slow-worm in the grass and I strongly suspect it was the same one, being the same size. So I guess that being trapped in the butt was too traumatic and it didn't have the strength to survive after being  set free. So if my question has an answer, it's 'not very long ...'.

    A shame the story has such a sad end.  

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,764

    Looking on the bright side it is unlikely that you only had one slow worm. There will be a colony nearby and you may find more soon. All the better for keeping your slug populations under control image.

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,657
    our ex slow worms used to live in a darkish damp corner next to the hedge and under the darlec composter they often would be seen going through the lawn which we used to leave a little longer than normal,often when they spotted us they would do a pretend dead act, it was all very interesting and some of them were a stunning golden colour some silver greenish also bronzy were planning a similar patch in our new garden when we move ,be nice to have them around again, im told they love compost heaps with a piece of corrugated sheet to hide under on hot days,excellent for slug control and a protected species im told, pity next doors Cat cant read,
  • flowering roseflowering rose Posts: 1,632

    they live in my daughters garden in among the dead leaves and under rubble or metal sheets.They have to keep a low profile as her hens rather like the small ones for tea.image

  • PeterE17PeterE17 Posts: 129

    Oh flowering rose, your story is even sadder than mine; still, hens will be hens. In nature it seems that to raise one adult you have to breed ten or ten thousand offspring.

    Steephill, you are right. I have spotted a couple of other young slow-worms by the porous fence between my path and the neighbouring garden which is currently untended.

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