Slow Worm Mating sequence

This is a first for me. Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) are one of our most common reptiles and there are always a few lurking in the corners of the garden. They are lizards (not snakes, despite being ‘legless’): they have eyelids (snakes don’t) and ear openings (snakes don’t have those either). Usually they are fairly static, and you can often find them underneath pots or stones (they like the warmth, being lizards). They are quite keen on compost bins as well (warmth).

This morning I popped into the garden and spotted two of them on the corner of the patio. And then I realized what was going on. This was the slow worm mating ritual. I dashed inside and grabbed the camera.

Slow worms at the start of mating

Slow worms at the start of mating

The male bites the female on her neck as they begin to entwine

The male bites the female on her neck as they begin to entwine

slow worms mating

Here they both seem to be having a nibble!

slow worms mating

More biting!

Pair of slow worms mating

Quite a tangle

slow worms mating

And finally they separate

The female will produce live young in late July or August. Apparently the young are born in their egg sac. I’ll be watching out for them, but the chance of seeing them at just the right time is remote.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D Mark II and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

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2 Comments

  1. gdare May 29, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    Wow, this was interesting. Seeing young ones would be a plus but as you said, it might not happen.

    • Words May 30, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

      It depends on my timing and if the female stays in the same part of the garden. I don’t want to disturb them, and they are quite well hidden under a lot of garden debris.