The only reptile we have here on Alderney is the slow worm. These curious creatures are not really worms, but closely related to lizards, which is why they look similar to a lizard with no legs. Unlike a snake they have a rounded tongue and they can blink (snakes do not have eyelids!). You can find them in heathland, grassland and often hibernating from October to March at the bottom of a compost heap. They frequent these habitats because their main diet is insects like slugs and snail - one slow worm can eat 20 slugs in as many minutes and suck a snail out of its shell. They also like smooth rocks to sunbathe on. A slow worm is a reptile, so can you think why it is important they have somewhere to sunbathe?

Chris Rees Slow Worm (AWT)

If they are caught by the tail they shed the end; this adaptation helps them evade predators and does them no harm as the tail regrows. The tail even continues to wriggle after it comes off, distracting predators and giving the slow worm time to escape.

Slow worms are ovoviviparous - meaning the egg shell is very weak and young hatch inside the female and then β€˜born’ live. The female will give birth to an average of eight young from August to September. This adaptation means the young are less fragile when they are born so are less vulnerable to predators and do not need feeding or care are they are fully-formed! Can you think of any other benefits to this method of reproduction?

Slow worm on the warm ground - they love the heat of compost heaps

Slow worm on the warm ground - they love the heat of compost heaps