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sexing a slow worm

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Topic: sexing a slow worm
Posted By: Crunchie
Subject: sexing a slow worm
Date Posted: 12 May 2006 at 6:17pm

Hullo all,

This is my first post onthis forum and I was hoping someone that has seen more slow worms than myself (can't be hard) could help me out.

I have two slow worms one of which I bought from a shop last summer (before anyone bites my head off the shop is mentioned in sslithsto's topic also on this section of the forum). The other I bought in 1998 from a local pet shop which had been captive bred in Germany - the petshop has since closed down.

I'm pretty sure my older one (Eirinn) is a female, she has a dark brown back with dorsal stripe with black flanks and belly she's also quite a bit chunkier than my newest one.

The one I bought last year (Harris) I was sure was female when I bought it but now I'm starting to wonder whether or not (s)he may be a male still in juvenile colouration. Since I believed her/him to be female I did not think it was a problem to keep her with my original female after a quarentine period but obviously I'm concerned now that after a recent shed she seems to have lightened in colour a bit. If she did turn out to be male would it bebest to seperate the two due to one being from Russia the other from Germany? 

Here are some photos to let people see...

Eirinn my definate female is a fantastic little character, overthe years she has become very tame and often takes food from fingers, begs for food and bites fingers when she doesn't get food (not too hard I might add). Slow worms really are fabulous little animals so as part of my introduction I'll add some of the funniest pictures I have of Eirinn as well...

This is the "beg"

This is the typical food beg

She's a bit nosey about things going on outside her viv

   



-------------
"Created to live
Created to share
With the fish of the sea
The birds of the air"



Replies:
Posted By: Crunchie
Date Posted: 15 May 2006 at 12:27pm

No one has any idea?

Does anyone then know of another forum or someone I could email to get an answer?



-------------
"Created to live
Created to share
With the fish of the sea
The birds of the air"


Posted By: Dan Kane
Date Posted: 15 May 2006 at 1:08pm

Now i'm no expert on Slow Worms, but it looks to me like you've got 2 females, Harris still in juvenile colouration, but getting towards adult colours.

I don't know about seperating them, but maybe someone more experienced could help with that?

Female slow worms have a darker stripe down their backs, and males have blue spots on their throats, or are uniform in colouration.

Hope this helps



Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 03 Jun 2006 at 6:12am

 

Hi Crunchie

really why go and buy slowworms when you can get them from the wild in the UK from local gardens etc - anyway - to sex them I would say that if you gently pressed on the body near the cloaca and pushed towards the vent probably releasing poo eventually the hemipenises would expose themselves in a male. If none show up then they are females.

if you dont like the sound of that you can look at the shape of the tail just after the vent - you may be able to make out the hemipenal bulge like in snakes and viv lizards. picture of the exposed hemipenises (cant spell)

 

 

Jon



Posted By: Crunchie
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 6:26am
Unfortunately I lost his link from my favourites shortly after I posted this topic and never really got round to checking it again.

To answer your first question I have never seen a slow worm wild in the UK. I live in a busy concrete jungle in central Scotland with the nearest nature reserve being 3 miles away. If there are any slow worms in my area I've never seen them, nor do I know anyone who has.

I don't think I'd fancy doing as you describe to the slow worm in case I hurt it - thanks anyway. Her pattern hasn't changed much since I posted this so I assume she is indeed female. She'll take food from peoples fingers now though which is nice but is not quite as friendly as my other female who I've had for 9 years or so now.

Originally posted by herpetologic2 herpetologic2 wrote:

 

Hi Crunchie

really why go and buy slowworms when you can get them from the wild in the UK from local gardens etc - anyway - to sex them I would say that if you gently pressed on the body near the cloaca and pushed towards the vent probably releasing poo eventually the hemipenises would expose themselves in a male. If none show up then they are females.

if you dont like the sound of that you can look at the shape of the tail just after the vent - you may be able to make out the hemipenal bulge like in snakes and viv lizards. picture of the exposed hemipenises (cant spell)

 

 

Jon



-------------
"Created to live
Created to share
With the fish of the sea
The birds of the air"


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 8:31am

Jon,

I don't think I can believe what you just wrote!!!! Are you seriously encouraging somebody to "pop" a hemipenes when they are relative novices at handling of reptiles?

If I said to you to squeeze you cats n*ts would you? No, because as likely as not you'd get scratched! The same goes if someone told you to sex a black mamba by popping! Why then just because its a harmless slowie or evn a grassie must the poor creatures have to put up with it?

Yours miffed.

RV



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RobV


Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 11:51am

Hi Rob

Please dont insult me.......it is a captive animal which was bought from a shop and the person asked how to sex the animal - the sure fire way of doing this is how I suggest - colouration can provide a good clue to the animals sex but not always....... an alternative would be just to inspect the cloaca and the tail - a slight bump would suggest a hemi penis - plus the shape of the head etc etc

Glad to see you are not worried about the fact that shops are SELLING SLOWWORMS! to inexperienced keepers as you suggest

Lets hope the slowworms survive their captive experience eh?

Jon



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Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 12:48pm

I wonder why we have a policy regarding captive animals on the forums. Come on guys keep it reasonable.

Lets face it if any species will thrive in captivity it is the slow worm, never kept one? I have and released it 5 years later after my views changed. I'm not sure it is a good idea for a novice to 'pop' their pet but I have heard if you roast them over a spit they do the same, used to be a way of proving that snakes had 'legs' I once read.

It shouldn't be difficult to sex a mature slow worm, maybe it is best to keep them apart if you do not want them to breed until you are sure Crunchie.



Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 1:36pm

I give up.......

Slowworms will expose themselves through handling - though tame ones may not react.......but who gives a toss

Jon



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Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 1:52pm
LOL Jon, we should all just keep off the pet threads.  I've seen it too during capture, but surely this is a reaction to stress in such a situation? It's usually the ones that are thrashing like mad that will invert the hemipenes. (don't know how to spell it either)


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 3:11pm

Jon,

I'm sorry if you saw my comments as an insult to you, as it wasn't intended to be (can't actually see how you thought it was though?).

I just can't see the sense in this sort of handling to a snake/lizard or whatever. It's just one of those things that I find particularly distasteful (no doubt you have some of your own). Of course there is the point of it being a captive animal etc, but, although its being unrealistic to expect people not to cage them, that's a different matter entirely to then pulling them around etc.

Maybe Gemmas right, its not a topic worth exploring as there are so many different views on 'sexing' on here and I've no doubt that you are able to do it perfectly well because of your experience, i just wouldn't like to see everyone following suit thinking that the forum in general approves..... maybe they do, but I can't, sorry again mate.

RV 



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RobV


Posted By: Crunchie
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 4:53pm
Deary me what have I started, I have never popped a reptile before unfortunately and so would not feel comfortable doing so unless shown by someone with experience. I agree with Robert in the fact I don't think its possible to advise how to sex in this manner over a forum, different if someone was there with you. Same goes for probing (though obviously that applies more to snakes than slow worms).

As for being a novice well probably not as I've been keeping reptiles for nearly 11 years now with a slow worm I've had from adult size for 9 of those years. When I bought this animal I had had my other for 8 years and it was bought from the most reputable reptile shop I've had the pleasure of visiting so I wouldn't worry about loads of little slowies ending up in the care of thick newbies like myself. For the record I have never had to take the slow worms or any of my current reptiles to a vet so I'm sure the slow worms aren't having that hard a time.      

-------------
"Created to live
Created to share
With the fish of the sea
The birds of the air"


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 04 Mar 2007 at 5:13pm

Sorry Crunchie to describe you as a noob. I've never seen a tame slowy pop when handled, I would guess you would have to apply quite a bit of pressure.

As with most forums we all either 'know each other' from talking on here or know each other outside the virtual world, so we aren't all arguing like a bunch of trolls really. I never agree with Jon and visa versa, I think we both benefit from the discussions though, at least I hope we do



Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 7:55am

 

Oh yes, it did read like I was suggesting you were a novice crunch, sorry to you as well.... Foot in mouth time all round! And Gemma can double up as umpire if we need it Lol. Jon, come back....Jon, are you there? JOOOOONNNNNNN!

 



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RobV


Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 8:33am
Looks to me like you've got yourself two females Crunchie. Out of interest, did the pet shops supplying you show the relevent paperwork to go with the sale of this species? I believe I'm right in saying they would have to prove that these specimens were not captured in the UK before sale!.


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 10:29am

Yeah come back Jon, I've even agreed with you on another thread

I thought they were both females, though seeing something in excess of a 1000 slow worms a year I'm cautious. Some do look female but are showing signs of still loosing the juvenile colouration so are actually males. Equally the markings of females can fade-out so it is can be quite misleading.

One more method is to look at the jaw profile. Males have distinctly heavier looking jaws, trouble with this is you usually need quite a few specimens for comparision to really appreciate the difference as there is a fair bit of natural variation.



Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 11:24am
I know where you're coming from Gemma, perhaps Crunchie would kindly take another photo of each?, perhaps an aeriel view over a white background...Would like to see the headshape clearly. But looking at their size I would expect to see the distinctive bulkier head profile showing by now, certainly in the Af Crunchies owned for 9 or so years, but as it stands the colouration/markings/headshape just fall into line with these specimens being females to me.


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 1:05pm
A couple of shots from underneath would help too, I can usually tell by the ventral colouration.


Posted By: Crunchie
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 5:47pm
Originally posted by Alex2 Alex2 wrote:

Looks to me like you've got yourself two females Crunchie. Out of interest, did the pet shops supplying you show the relevent paperwork to go with the sale of this species? I believe I'm right in saying they would have to prove that these specimens were not captured in the UK before sale!.


Hi Alex,
I was provided with copies of paperwork for the sale of both animals though I have since misplaced the one for my German slowie. Still have the one for my Russian one however thankfully.


-------------
"Created to live
Created to share
With the fish of the sea
The birds of the air"


Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 6:10pm

Originally posted by Crunchie Crunchie wrote:

Originally posted by Alex2 Alex2 wrote:

Looks to me like you've got yourself two females Crunchie. Out of interest, did the pet shops supplying you show the relevent paperwork to go with the sale of this species? I believe I'm right in saying they would have to prove that these specimens were not captured in the UK before sale!.


Hi Alex,
I was provided with copies of paperwork for the sale of both animals though I have since misplaced the one for my German slowie. Still have the one for my Russian one however thankfully.

Good stuff, although not illegal to keep Af captive in this country it's still good to have the paperwork, if anything just to reassure that no underhand tactics were coming from the petshop!. I can remember an old Bournemouth reptile shop (thats since closed) selling Smooth Newts...I think it's fair to say this chap wasn't importing these from over seas. 



Posted By: Crunchie
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 7:09pm
Yes unfortunately I saw an add on a reptile classified add site last year advertising common lizards and slow worms as F2 generation so legal to sell. Unfortunately it eventually turned out that the person selling thought that F2 meant they had to be kept in captivity for two years. To make matters worse they offered to send the slow worms out by Royal mail special delivery which is illegal in itself.

-------------
"Created to live
Created to share
With the fish of the sea
The birds of the air"


Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2007 at 8:34pm

Originally posted by Crunchie Crunchie wrote:

Yes unfortunately I saw an add on a reptile classified add site last year advertising common lizards and slow worms as F2 generation so legal to sell. Unfortunately it eventually turned out that the person selling thought that F2 meant they had to be kept in captivity for two years. To make matters worse they offered to send the slow worms out by Royal mail special delivery which is illegal in itself.

I hope this was reported? And if not, do you have a name/email etc of the seller/sellers?, if so PM me and I'll pass it on to the relevant people. Sadly a prime example of why it's a bad idea to post on the net specific sites that herps occupy, plays right into the collectors hands. I always like to think that this is a thing of the past but sadly we know this not to be true. 



Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2007 at 3:28am

Where was Natural England, RSPCA and the Police when you need them.......I think we need to make sure that these people get charged

I once caught a pet shop cashing in on toad tadpoles - they were selling them in plastic bags at 60p a go - I asked are they common toad? they said they are as common as they come?

So I went to the police and the RSPCA paid a visit and all the toad tadpoles were taken off sale -

So keep an eye out on exotic pet stores as they may put these animals on sale at this time of year.

The plastic bags were on the counter next to the bloodworm and othe rlive foods!

Jon

 



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Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2007 at 4:42am

Only under a license - I cannot sell toads, frogs and newts as I DO NOT HAVE A LICENSE TO DO SO. If I collected some frogs in my back garden in December - I placed a sign outside my house 'Frogs for sale 50p each' I will be breaking the law as I do not have a license!

If you happen to have a license then you are not allowed to sell the amphibians in the breeding season and in particular places

Palmate newts are very rare in the counties listed

I think you will find that the license will name the licensee and it would not cover anyone else you have to apply for a specific license just like a survey license for great crested newts.

Though this may be different for pet shops - for instance they donot need a DWA for selling dangerous animals - they just have to sell to people that have them........

If you apply for a license for a pet shop does that include everyone in the shop?

 

Jon



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Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2007 at 4:43am

I need to show my survey or development license on demand to Natural England or Police officers so you should also with selling licenses

 

jon



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Posted By: Matt Harris
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2007 at 10:21am
There is a general licence here in Wales as well, for sale of common amphibians outside of the breeding season. I haven't seen the text of it, but the English equivalent used to be viewable on the DEFRA website. You don't need to carry the thing around in your pocket, it just exempts you from the relevant provisions of the WCA.

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Local Authority Ecologist


Posted By: Crunchie
Date Posted: 11 Mar 2007 at 10:30am
It was brought to the attention of a reptile forum I use but I'm unsure if the admin took the ad off their site. Here's the thread in question...

http://www.livefoodshop.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=4819 3&hl=slow

Originally posted by Alex2 Alex2 wrote:

Originally posted by Crunchie Crunchie wrote:

Yes unfortunately I saw an add on a reptile classified add site last year advertising common lizards and slow worms as F2 generation so legal to sell. Unfortunately it eventually turned out that the person selling thought that F2 meant they had to be kept in captivity for two years. To make matters worse they offered to send the slow worms out by Royal mail special delivery which is illegal in itself.

I hope this was reported? And if not, do you have a name/email etc of the seller/sellers?, if so PM me and I'll pass it on to the relevant people. Sadly a prime example of why it's a bad idea to post on the net specific sites that herps occupy, plays right into the collectors hands. I always like to think that this is a thing of the past but sadly we know this not to be true. 



-------------
"Created to live
Created to share
With the fish of the sea
The birds of the air"


Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 8:38am

Well I think the word 'popping' the hemipenes is a little misleading when it comes to slowworms. Generally when you hold male slowworms if they are thrashing about messing etc they will expose their hemipenes -

I have seen Nick Smith look at slowworms and he uses gentle pressure with a finger behind the cloaca - a push down onto this will produce poo in females no hempenes but in males usually hemipenes will invert out to the side of the cloaca.

Given the originator of this post had a captive slowworm which in my opinion should never have been bought (no offence intended) as yeah its a German slowworm or its a Russian Slowworm or what ever - in this country it is illegal to sell slowworms which in my mind is absolutely right......leave that rant...

If you look at the base of the cloaca and the body it is quite soft and can be gently pushed to expell faeces - so if done slowly and gently will not do any harm to the animal.

It was a suggestion as some male slowworms do look like females and vice versa

You wouldnt want to touch the tail mind as this would break surely

 

Jon

 

 

 



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Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 4:01pm

Groan..... I give up.

R



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RobV


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 4:39pm
Originally posted by herpetologic2 herpetologic2 wrote:

Well I think the word 'popping' the hemipenes is a little misleading when it comes to slowworms. Generally when you hold male slowworms if they are thrashing about messing etc they will expose their hemipenes -

I've seen this happen probably twice in as many decades, most that are thrashing to that extent drop the tail without it even being touched. A sure sign that they are too warm for capture in my book.

Still 'popping your pet' could become as popular as 'pimping your ride' I guess. (do you think Jon will shout at us again Rob )

 



Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 6:27pm

LOL

So before you rub them too much and of course heat them up - getting the males to expose themselves quickly would be a useful tool in identifying the sexes - especially in young animals.

Though of course I cannot recommend that anyone does this as no one can possibly try this on a live animal. It may be best to try it out on a stuffed toy just to get the hand of it......

Come on people get in the real world will you!

Gem seems to make tail autonomy to an art form - perhaps some go faster stripes and lower suspension though I may have mixed up my sentences.......

Wonder what old slippery is going to announce next week.....its not April Fools yet is it?

 

Regards

 

JC

 



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Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 6:28pm

I am going to get that 5 foot grass snake this year by the way Rob!



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Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 6:33pm

I've just tried it on 'Purple Gertie' and all her beans have fallen out, bad advice that Jon to try it out on your favourite stuffed toy

You need to get a 6 footer surely Jon



Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 6:48pm

You were clearly pushing too HARD!

take it easy....

 

Well Rob aint gonna get anything over 4ft so I thought I may have to make do with a 5 footer just to be sure lol

Jon



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Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 7:04pm
Oh dear another thread degenerates.....  I'll be down at Chigborough tomorrow weather permitting, could be some biggies down there, though most are nice stocky 3 footers that I've seen to date.


Posted By: Peter Vaughan
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2007 at 7:34pm

The thread can degenerate more yet...

Thinking about Grass Snake sizes - I only saw the tail of one yesterday so I suppose the total length of the snake could have been anything between two feet and nine feet (or more) in length.  Only limited by imagination really...

Time to turn in for the night I think.



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Peter Vaughan



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