The north west slow-worm hunt Print

This was ARGSL's main project from late 2007 to late 2008. 

ARGSL was awarded a grant by Awards for All (the National Lottery grants scheme) for the “north-west slow-worm hunt”.

Although they look like snakes, slow worms are in fact the only 'legless lizard' native to the UK. In common with the other lizards they have an ability to shed their tail when attacked, and also have eyelids. 

The aim of the 'north west slow worm hunt' was to actively collect as much information as possible about slow-worms in the north west, to give us a better understanding of their habitat requirements and their distribution, thus putting us in a better position to protect them.

Do we have slow-worms in the north west?

We do indeed!

However, like other reptiles, slow-worms are quite a rarity in the north-west and we have few reliable records for them.  Although there are very few records this could partly be because they are very elusive, and because sightings have gone unreported! 

[Male Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) in Lancashire]

By comparison, slow-worms are relatively common in some parts of the UK.


What has the project done?

This project achieved four main objectives:

  • A series of training sessions were held to inform people about slow-worms and other reptiles.
  • Volunteers have been encouraged to survey for reptiles and as a result, a significant number of new slow-worm sites have been found, mainly in Lancashire.
  • Information on slow-worms was produced for the public, volunteers, rangers and local authority staff.
  • ARGSL attended a series of public events across the region to raise awareness of slow-worms
  • Records collected during this project are being included on a database that will be used to influence future conservation priorities in the region

The project has been successful in collecting information about a significant number of new slow-worm sites and much of this information has come from new areas where they have been previously unrecorded.

This indicates that although slow-worms are indeed uncommon in the north west, they are more widespread than previously thought. The same could be true for the common lizard, the adder and even the grass snake!

And its not all over yet.....
here's who to contact if you see a slow worm

Although the project funding has ceased we shall continue to collect records. 
Your sightings remain just as valuable so if you’ve seen a slow-worm in the north west please let us know about it!

You can do this by:-

a) Printing out, and posting, our ARGSL Record form;
b) Using our on-line Recording Facility (to be launched in February 2009);
c) Using the back of the slow-worm leaflet:iconNorth west slow-worm hunt leaflet (373.75 kB)

Please give us as much information as you can.

Also, even if you haven’t seen a slow-worm in the north west but you've seen another reptile or amphibian species, please let us know. We have a Record form that you can print and post, plus we'll soon launch our on-line Recording Facility.

Slow-worm records will be shared with the Herpetological Conservation Trust, the National Biodiversity Network and local records centres.

Who’s helped with running the project?

The Herpetological Conservation Trust and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust have both provided support.  Assistance with the production of information has been given by John Baker, the ARG UK Widespread Species Officer.