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Wildlife TV - Slow Worms

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: 12 Jul 2020 at 1:40pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: Wildlife TV - Slow Worms
Posted By: Jamesm1985
Subject: Wildlife TV - Slow Worms
Date Posted: 23 Apr 2020 at 11:05am
Hello everyone, 
Sorry for the blanket message. I wondered if anyone could help me. I live just outside chepstow in South Wales. I found two slow worms in 2 weeks (one in my kitchen and one under a pile of slate which I was in the process of removing. Unfortunately I released them into my compost heap before realising how useful they might be!
I'm a wildlife TV producer and have just been asked to think of a story to film in my garden (thanks to corona virus) and I'm keen to feature slow worms devouring slugs to protect my veg patch.
So long story short, do any of you live near to chepstow? And if so would you be in favour of me "borrowing" a slow worm for a couple of days filming before either releasing in my garden (which is evidently a popular slow worm spot) or returning to your garden afterwards? I would happily comply to social distancing rules etc (you could leave it in a suitably comfortable Tupperware outside your house for instance.)
Having never found one in my garden in 2 years until these two showed up I'm not 100% confident that I can find another one, hence the request. Lighting may have struck twice...
Thanks all,

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 23 Apr 2020 at 7:15pm
You could try placing down some corrugated tin or black bitumen roofing felt in a sunny but overgrown part of the garden. Very likely they will make use of it within a couple of days.

Posted By: chubsta
Date Posted: 24 Apr 2020 at 9:31am
James, as Gemma has said, try putting a something down, I did this having been told about slow-worms by my neighbour and within days had them underneath, I too had never seen any. If they are around, and two would indicate a decent population, probably in your compost heap, then this should work. Good luck!

Posted By: Jamesm1985
Date Posted: 24 Apr 2020 at 4:35pm
Thanks so much both, really helpful.
I have had a delicate sift through the first few inches of my compost heap with no luck but I'm sure they're in there.  Also, my compost heap is in a very shaded part of the garden which isn't ideal. it is a cold compost heap, not warm.
I've put down some large slate roof tiles in various parts of the garden so fingers crossed. Will try and find something a bit more substantial!
Would you know when the best time of day would be to look for them? Early morning basking on a wall or under the slate, midday out hunting or early evening?
Sorry for the obvious questions!
Thanks all.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 24 Apr 2020 at 5:41pm
There is usually a morning and afternoon 'window' when they are most likely to be found under an artificially placed 'cover object', often the sun is too hot around lunch time. Try various times as it really depends on how much sun and how much vegetation is under the object. If you can feel the object is warm but not hot, be ready! Slow worms are almost invariable found under cover objects, rather than on them.

Posted By: Jamesm1985
Date Posted: 24 Apr 2020 at 10:29pm
Thanks so much, really helpful.
Fingers crossed!

Posted By: Suzy
Date Posted: 25 Apr 2020 at 10:22am
Is your compost heap covered or open? An old carpet or black plastic make heaps more attractive for slow worms as they bask underneath. You say it is in the shade, but a cover might still attract them. 
What others say about putting covers on the ground is good advice. My covers are all in the shade until about 11am these days, but the slow worms are still under them before the sun hits them. 
As Chubsta indicates there will be a good number if you've seen two. They are a hard thing to evaluate without covers as you hardly ever see them.
Good luck.


Posted By: Jamesm1985
Date Posted: 28 Apr 2020 at 11:00am
Thanks so much Suz (sorry for the delay in response). 

I'll put a bin liner over the compost heap today. As i said it's a cold compost heap but I noticed that the grass cuttings next to it are now boiling with decomposition, so I'll pour them on top of it and put the cover over.

Elsewhere, I've put largish slate tiles down around the borders of my lawn (backing onto the bushes), each around 40cm x 30cm, so not huge, but they do warm up nicely in the sun being slate. nothing yet though...I don't have a big sheet of corrugated iron or similar.

Ironically I found my two slow worms on the opposite side of the garden to the compost heap (one in my house!, the other under some tiles just next to my house about 30 metres away from the compost heap). so unless they regularly travel that far back and forth I can't be certain they are down in the compost.

Anyway, it's really good to learn more about them at the very least. thanks for all your helpful tips. Fingers firmly crossed!

I've ready that they come out a lot int he rain, but it's rather cold now so not expecting to see any in the next couple of days.

Finally, I have a 10 hour heat pad for a cat i never got (great decision after hearing they go for slow worms!) so i might place that under a cover and see if I can attract a couple with the heat...


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