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Garden slow worms

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VickyS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VickyS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2017 at 8:28am
Always happy to see them! I wish I could get some but I guess we don't have enough slow worm friendly gardens in the local area (we do have smooth newts).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2017 at 3:55pm
If slow worms are in the area (sometimes a difficult thing to assess) they will get along in a mix of gardens - manicured and more unkempt. I had them in my compost heaps before I decided to let parts of the garden go wild. I had grass snakes then as well. Connectivity is important and here there is a sort of slow worm Right to Roam as the gardens don't have hard boundaries. This is because they are large and it would be too expensive and gales bring down solid fences. 
Having smooth newts is neat. 
Suz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VickyS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 2017 at 8:47am
Yes I'm very lucky to have a neighbour with what estate agents describe as a 'mature garden' (with pond) so when I dug my pond it was very quickly colonised (shame about the duckweed though!). Shame I am selling up but will do my best to persuade the new owners to keep the pond and trees I planted! The gardens are fairly well connected in my very local area as the hedgehogs travel from garden to garden (I eagerly follow them with my ears!) but generally the wider habitat is pretty limited (very urban). I have seen a (roe) deer wandering towards the main town up my road though :0
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chubsta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2017 at 3:46pm
Originally posted by AGILIS AGILIS wrote:

Hi Suzy you always have a good lot of garden sloworms for us.

what of you think the reasons for this are - i would like to encourage them but am unsure as to where to really start, what do you think are the 'secrets of your success'? Also, as hedgehogs eat them would it really be fair to encourage them in?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Aug 2017 at 1:38pm
I used to go and look at slow worms on the high banking of a lane less than a hundred yards away from my home. That was almost thirty years ago. I never thought they might be in other places e.g. the gardens here. Then I discovered my neighbour had them under carpet pieces he placed on top of his compost heaps. He was squeamish about them, so never encouraged them as such, they just arrived. When we moved here it was very lacking in cover for slow worms, but within a few years we started finding them in the bases of dalek type compost bins and under black plastic on top of larger compost heaps, one an old concrete coal bunker that we placed for compost making and one we inherited with the house that was made out of four sheets of corrugated iron with iron post corners. What seems to be important here is that compost heaps are covered in some way. Numbers built up and I think there might be over sixty adults in my garden alone. There are also lots of youngsters, and they breed in the compost heaps. Maybe five years ago I put down Coroline sheets and they seem to be favoured places. I have even had grass snakes in the compost heaps and under the Coroline sheets. I don't think it's necessary to let your garden go wild to attract them. I have lots of herbaceous areas which are densely planted and attract lots of bees etc. I also have areas of mown grass. I never use any sort of chemical in the garden - lawn weed/feed, slug pellets, fertiliser, insecticide etc. I'm not sure if any of these are harmful to slow worms, but I just don't use them. I have now, as you might have seen from my photos, let some go wild - but I had the slow worms before this. Some of the gardens here are closely mown and have shrub borders. There are places for slow worms to hide, and they can move across the gardens. As you might have read I also have great crested newts, so they almost certainly travel across the lawns. For them not to become inbred I think it is good that they can roam. Do you live somewhere where they could move about freely, whilst liking your garden? I would start by putting down some covers, to see what's about. We had newts here in the garden 20 years before I put in a pond. These were discovered in the terrestrial stage. 
This year we have had a hedgehog/s for over four months. That is the best ever as they usually end up as road pancakes. We've had them before and I guess they meet slow worms on their travels. I think it is difficult to try and encourage one species whilst dissuading another. I'm not even sure you should. Are the hedgehogs eating my GCNs? Sad if so, but I can't really stop it. In nature there are always casualties. Cats are the biggest killers of all here and of course they are  introduced.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 4:49pm
Great to read your update Suz.

We introduced slow-worms when a local development site I knew well was appallingly mitigated. Very poor effort and the consultant overlooked that the new warehouse would totally over shadow a bank teeming with slow worms. Mervyn and I took it on ourselves to rescue all we could and try introducing them to the garden.

It is early days but they do seem to be around still and signs of successful breeding with one or two newborns spotted last year. The wildlife garden has plenty of log piles, a very large compost heap and plastic dalek one like you have. We are far from having the success you seem to have with slow worm farming but fingers crossed they are at least established now.

The lizards are still going, first young of the year spotted last week on onduline. Still have the problem with cats, but I largely let the habitat get very overgrown now just to provide as much cover as possible. I think I mentioned the scarecrow water squirters before. Only really effective cat deterrent I have used and they do not seem to bother the hedgehogs or other mammals that regularly set them off but seem to stay or visit regardless. 

I agree with wildlife  roaming. We have adjoining hedgerows and a pasture as well as neighbouring gardens. The main aim is I have is to try to provide very suitable habitat for the purposes of breeding for a wide range of species. I guess there is an argument with the cats that I should have just leveled the whole lot, but we originally started the wildlife garden when we had no neighbours with cats. So by the time they moved in with 4 cats I felt really we had to keep it and protect it best we could.

Just a quick PS as the discussion is moving towards 'secrets of success' with the lizards the population was already present along the hedgerow. How we got them so well established in the garden, log piles, nothing more. Large (initially 5-6 ft high) piles of willow logs in sunny spots was all that was needed. We topped them off with some brambles in later years to deter the cats. As the logs decayed large cracks formed in them providing ideal hibernation opportunities. We often see that some make it a permanent home for several years while other individuals just come for a visit now and then.



Edited by GemmaJF - 10 Aug 2017 at 5:07pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chubsta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 7:58pm
I spoke to a neighbour for the first time a couple of days ago - next door but one so probably about 50 yards away - he has lived in his house for approx 18 months. He had heard about my interest in hedgehogs and wanted to ask some advice on feeding them etc. In passing he mentioned that he couldn't believe the number of slow-worms he had in his garden - turns out he has a large compost heap which was there when he moved in and when he lifts the lid he often sees 10 or more of all different sizes. 

I currently have a 20foot x 5 foot strip at the end of my garden which is all I am able to allow to go 'wild', it has old logs and pretty much all me grass and hedge clippings piled up on it, with plenty of plants growing up through the 'compost'. Hopefully some of his slowworms will venture far enough to find this as a decent habitat but unfortunately it is in the only shadowy part of the garden so i guess it may not be warm enough for them.

very nice to see there is a decent population nearby though, as far as i can tell all the neighbours in our 'block' seem pretty wildlife friendly (lots of birdtables etc) but for most people something like a slow-worm would kind of fall under their radar as you don't see them often, or they are misidentified as snakes (we get an awful lot of adders on the cliffs about 200 meters away, often see them basking in the morning but have never seen them in a garden). I have a small strip about 10 feet long and a foot wide i could cover in corrugated iron which is in a much sunnier spot so may give that a go.

Cats are still an issue here, the hogs don't mind them, even the small ones, but they have killed large numbers of mice and have also seen them attacking frogs - i guess they must take lots of small birds too. Not sure what to do about them that isn't lethal but fortunately the most common feline visitor is a massive fat thing belonging to a neighbour which shows no interest in anything other than other cats and so far this year has managed to scare most of them away without bothering any wildlife. We did have a cat that never went any further than our garden and didn't once attack any wildlife, just wasn't interested, it is just a shame they aren't all like that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Aug 2017 at 11:43am
I find the scarecrow cat squirts the best deterrent. Cats soon learn to avoid gardens with them. It helps when deterring them to think 'cat'. They have routes they follow when hunting. Disrupting their route where it happens to be in your garden is a move to keeping them out. The cats move far too quickly to even get wet when the squirters go off, but the movement and sound of the squirter is enough to deter them in the end.

There are cats and there are cats. We have an old moggy from one of the neighbours who sits on an old willow stump in the front garden. Never bothers anything and happily passes most of the day sunning itself. 

Then there is the 'black death' from our immediate neighbour, the thing is a walking death machine and was responsible for practically wiping out our lizards and voles a few years back. Tried to get at the nesting blue tits this year (had to put wire around the post that box is attached to). It hates the squirters though.


Edited by GemmaJF - 11 Aug 2017 at 12:33pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Aug 2017 at 5:52pm
Suz I meant to ask before, do you get signs of lots of tunnels in top of your composters?

I have only noticed this since introducing the slow worms. On top of the compost I see finger sized holes all over. I'm presuming it is slow worms making these as they seem far too small to be created by mammals of any kind. 

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