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A quick guide to the slow worm.

IT'S slow worm spotting season! You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd come across a snake if you do happen to find one in your garden. But they are 'legless lizards' - definitely not a worm.

Slow worms were spotted near Lingdale and Guisborough by Craig Holmes, 37, a fireman from Skelton who travels the world to see a wide variety of wildlife.

So here's all you need to know about the endangered - and totally harmless - creatures that are protected by law.

FACT FILE | | Latin name Anguis fragilis | | Length: Up to 50cm fully grown | | Weight: 20-100g | | Average lifespan: Up to 20 years | |Conservation: The slow worm is protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

| Male slow worms are grey brown and females are brown and have dark sides with a line running down their back. | They have closeable eyelids and tails that drop off in an attempted escape from danger.

| Gardens can often provide suitable places for slow worms - compost heaps in particular provide an ideal refuge. | The reptile will burrow and hibernate underground from October to March. | The Wildlife Trusts says you can help protect the species by leaving piles of logs for hibernating beneath.

IF YOU DO COME ACROSS ONE, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Here is the answer, provided by The RSPB website.

"Being most active at dusk, slow worms eat mainly slowmoving prey such as slugs, worms, snails as well as the odd insect and spider.

"They do not bite people and are completely harmless.

"Slow worms are protected by law and it is a criminal offence to deliberately kill them.

"Should you happen upon a slow worm, the best thing to do is to leave it alone or cover it back over carefully."

CAPTION(S):

The slow worm is a 'legless lizard' andy money

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2017
Words:312
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