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Interesting facts about the common legless lizard

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The legless lizard is often confused with a snake

Although the slow worm resembles a snake, it is actually a legless lizard. During evolution, these animals lost their limbs, but the skeleton still preserved the remains of the shoulder and pelvic girdle.

Because of their slowness, they often become victims of predators. They are also sometimes mistakenly killed by people who mistake them for vipers. Fortunately, the high mortality rate of these animals is compensated by the large number of calves born in one litter.


They live on the edges of forests or in visible areas of the forest.

They prefer deciduous forests, rich in various shelters.

A slow-moving worm can be distinguished from a snake by its movable eyelids and the presence of ear holes.


Its range covers northern Spain and Portugal, England, all of Central Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.

Until recently, there were two subspecies within the species (eastern and western). In 2010, the eastern subspecies was recognized as a separate species of slow worm - Colchian slow worm.


They also live in the mountains. They can be found at considerable heights.

In the northernmost regions of its distribution it can only be found on the plains, but as latitude decreases it begins to appear in the mountains. In Poland, the common slow worm is found at an altitude of up to 1100 m above sea level, and in the Alps even at an altitude of 2000 m above sea level.

Some sources say that it is found in the Balkans at an altitude of up to 2400 m above sea level.


In Central Europe, slow worms are active from February to October, in Poland from late March and April to October.


Slow worms are most active in the evening and early at night.

During the day, they most often hide under fallen trunks, branches or stones. They can sometimes be found during the day, lying in the sun or looking for food.

The most common victims of rot are earthworms, snails or larvae of slow-moving insects.

Slow worms are unable to hunt faster-moving animals because they themselves move clumsily and slowly.

The slow worm takes 10 to 15 minutes to eat its prey.

The feeding process of these animals is also slow and they are rather clumsy. They hunt slow-moving prey such as snails or earthworms.

Scavengers have poor eyesight, they cannot distinguish colors, and shades of gray do not have much contrast.


The common slow worm is an ovoviviparous animal.

In the days leading up to giving birth, the female can often be seen basking in the sun on a warm road. Then they often die after being hit by a car or bicycle.

The length of pregnancy in rodents is determined by environmental temperature, but it can be assumed that on average it is from 11 to 13 weeks.

In one litter, from 6 to 26 young rodents are born.

Young animals are born at the turn of July and August, although cases of birth are known in later months.

Newborn slow worms are between 33 and 35 millimeters long, although they can be born larger.

Female rodents become pregnant every two years and reach sexual maturity at the age of 4 years.


Females are larger than males. The body length of a female can reach 50 centimeters, a male – up to 40.


The tail of slow worms makes up 2/3 of the body length. When threatened, the slow-moving worm can shed its tail, which then grows back.

In place of the discarded tail, a new one grows, but it usually has neither its original length nor its original shape.

Padalec zwyczajny (Anguis fragilis) - po odrzuceniu ogona

In the video above you can see the slow worm dropping its tail.

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