Print Page | Close Window

So slow worms climb hedges - Iom amazed

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Slow Worm
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Anguis fragilis
Printed Date: 16 Jan 2019 at 2:23pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: So slow worms climb hedges - Iom amazed
Posted By: Shawit
Subject: So slow worms climb hedges - Iom amazed
Date Posted: 10 Oct 2010 at 11:57pm

Absolutely horrified today at killing an adult female slow worm in the garden. I cut the longer grass I leave at the edges of the lawn with wallpaper scissors to avoid killing the frogs, newts and slowworms in our garden and am as careful as i can be. The slowworm was 5 foot off the ground in the top of an ivy hedge that i was cutting with an electric hedge cutter. Sadly, I didn't react quickly enough. 

My sister in law works for a charity that gives help to people who perhaps need help managing their homes. She has told me before about an old lady who to her neighbour's annoyance won't allow her hedges to be maintained as she claimed the slowworms climb up into them. I dismissed this - I wish I hadn't.

Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2010 at 1:58pm
This isn't something I've ever observed though suspect that it is a case of the slow worms seeking out a good basking position when the ground level is shaded. Would be wonderful to see a photographs of this behaviour.

I've often seen snakes climb low bushes to bask and also to forage.

Posted By: Mark_b
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2010 at 4:50pm
This reminded me of some photographs I saw on the Wild
About Britain Forum.

This is what the user said...

"Slow-worm - Anguis fragilis - have been appearing in the
hedge close to our conservatory glass at about a height
of 1m. for the past four years, always in the same pane
of glass. They are usually seen fom early to mid March
until the autumn"

I uploaded the photos using the forum but I cant get them
to appear or even become clickable, so for now copy and
paste the links to view

Pictures now added - Chris, Admin


Amazing shots!


Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2010 at 4:53pm
hi gemma,

my STEEP HOLM FIELD REPORT topic includes a pic of slow-worms basking under a tin on top of a bushell of twigs 2' off the ground. which is a similar scenario to shawits in a sense. i suppose. they had to climb there anyway.

sorry to hear about your slowie shawit. dont feel bad though- it was an accident. weve all done similar (or worse). who woulda thought youd find AF there? youll know next time though eh?


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 12 Oct 2010 at 2:45am
Thanks for posting the picks Mark_B, it appears to be a relatively common behaviour. Perhaps I better spend more time during surveys looking up as well as down!

Thanks Ben, I'll find the thread and have a good read.

Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 12 Oct 2010 at 3:52pm
wow! thanks for the pix mark and chris (and WOB "user").

i cant be sure but the hedge looks like common box (buxus sempervirens). if thats the case then its density as garden hedging probably makes for an easier climb for AF in this case???
hard to imagine AF doing such an edmund hilary in cypress anyhow.

looks like the slowies are taking advantage of the glass for TR.

really interesting post all!

is that a wood mouse (apodemus sylvaticus) curled up beside the slowies in the last pic?


Posted By: Suzi
Date Posted: 12 Oct 2010 at 7:35pm
The hedge I think is lonicera nitida which is a commonly grown hedging/topiary shrub  which can be golden coloured as well. It too is very dense like box.


Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 14 Oct 2010 at 8:30am
thanks suz. thats one for me to look up!


Posted By: Jonathan
Date Posted: 16 Oct 2010 at 11:22pm

People!!! I'm amazed at this thread and your reaction to it.  Most if not all of my slow-worm sightings if not under refugia are on top of dense gorse or heather.  As soon as they see you they freeze and if aproached will drop.  The heather is usually very very thick and found between my usually open adder areas, but they are always there if you look for them..

"England Expects"

Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 17 Oct 2010 at 1:07am
Yep I guess put like that, most of my visual encounters are on the tops of heather or bracken piles - but a garden hedge.. guess I had just never thought about it. I've seen grass snakes coiled up at the top of those six foot fencing boards though and our common lizards in the garden climb up to the top of them most days. I'll have to start inspecting the privet at the end of the garden for slow-worms. 

Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 17 Oct 2010 at 10:09am
jonathon- large vertical panes of glass beside 5' garden hedging are rather uncommon on heathland though wouldnt you say?

its still a very interesting post from a behaviour point of view.

regards, ben

Posted By: Shawit
Date Posted: 17 Oct 2010 at 11:02pm

Today was the first time I've been at home in the morning since last Sunday's carnage. The six foot stretch of hedge the slow worm was on is the only spot in direct sunlight at 10.15 now that the sun is getting lower in the sky.


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 18 Oct 2010 at 4:23am
Well if nothing else it's a new party trick to add to the repertoire I guess. I use to think being able to catch lizards off the top of refugia was impressive but to spot the right bit of a hedge and pull a slow worm out would surprise a few people. 

Don't feel bad about it Shawit, it would never have occurred to me that a slow worm would be up in a garden hedge. Sad as it is I'm sure your experience has enlightened many of us. I'll certainly not be taking the hedge trimmer to the privet from now on when it's the only part of the garden in sun. It is horrible when these things happen but I guess we all learn from these experiences.

Posted By: smallstuff
Date Posted: 19 Dec 2017 at 10:33pm
It seems we need to start looking for slow worms in higher places. Today my attention was drawn to our cat on the old 'shed' roof as a tile was displaced and slid to the ground. She seemed to have been interested in something up there. About 5 minutes later I returned and she was on the ground playing with a still moving half of a slow worm, right next to the tile. Too much of a coincidence that she'd found it at ground level.

Posted By: smallstuff
Date Posted: 19 Dec 2017 at 10:34pm
...any other suggestions?!

Print Page | Close Window

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.06 -
Copyright ©2001-2016 Web Wiz Ltd. -