Graeme's picture

Slow Worm

Observed: 30th April 2011 By: Graeme
The Anton River Conservation Association
Graeme’s reputation in Amphibians and ReptilesGraeme’s reputation in Amphibians and ReptilesGraeme’s reputation in Amphibians and Reptiles
Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) 30.4.11.West Down
Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) 30.4.11.West Down 1
Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) 30.4.11.West Down 1 2
Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) 30.4.11.West Down 1 2 3
Description:

Found these two slow worms, one bitting the others head, I assume mating, or they really didn't like each other? They are the first I have seen since 1989 so I was very pleased
And why are they called slow worms, whenever I see them they are damn fast

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

anonymous spotter's picture

Mating -

There appears to be a male (plain coloured) and female (striped) here - so it's a fair bet.
"Slow worm" is indeed a misnomer, and I'm not sure we really know why they're so-called.
Two theories are popular: it could be a corruption of "slay-worm" - applied to snakes in general (and legless lizards by accident) - worms that could kill. Or it could be related to an old word "slango", meaning "snake".

the naturalist man's picture

Slow worm

I always thought it was a corruption of slough worm meaning they could loose their skin, but my dad sometimes stated his guesses as fact!

Graham Banwell

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Masked Marvel's picture

In Malcolm Smith's New

In Malcolm Smith's New Naturalist book of 1951 (still a great read despite being 60 years old) he suggests that "worm" was a generic term for all long thin animals (there are medieval texts that refer to long thin dragons as worms) and compared to other long thin animals (i.e. snakes), slow worms are indeed quite slow.

the naturalist man's picture

Wurm

Yes, worms (more usually used is the German for worm - wurm, pronounced 'vurm') are a flightless dragon from European mythology. Medieval bestiaries always illustrated them as looking like scaly worms with a dragon's head.

The most famous was the Lampton wurm which lived in a well and terrorised the local villigers until John Lampton killed it - and so he should as it was his fault it was there in the first place.

The largest was Jormungander, a wurm which surrounded earth (Midguward) in Norse mythology; it bit its own tail and is often depicted in norse illustrations and jewelry, I have a Viking belt buckle which is a wurm biting it's tail to form a circle.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411