Anguis, or the slow worm, is a small genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of lizard
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 3800 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains...

 in the family Anguidae
The Anguidae is a large and diverse family of lizards native to the northern hemisphere. The group includes the slowworms, glass lizards, and alligator lizards, among others. Anguidae is divided into three subfamilies and contains 94 species in eight genera. Their closest living relatives are the...

. It has two described species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...


Although they are lizards, slow worms have lost their limbs
Limb (anatomy)
A limb is a jointed, or prehensile , appendage of the human or other animal body....

 completely and are often mistaken as snakes. Slow-worms typically grow to between 40 and 50 cm (15.7 and 19.7 in), with the females slightly larger than the males. The tail makes up around half of its length, but is indistinguishable from the body.

As their name indicates, slow worms are slow moving and can be easily caught. Like many lizards, slow worms can shed their tails
Autotomy or self amputation is the act whereby an animal severs one or more of its own appendages, usually as a self-defense mechanism designed to elude a predator's grasp...

 to distract predators. The tail regrows but rarely to the length of the original.

Slow worms can be distinguished from snakes by several features: their eyelid
An eyelid is a thin fold of skin that covers and protects an eye. With the exception of the prepuce and the labia minora, it has the thinnest skin of the whole body. The levator palpebrae superioris muscle retracts the eyelid to "open" the eye. This can be either voluntarily or involuntarily...

s, which snakes lack entirely; their small ear openings which again snakes lack; and their tongues, which are notched in the centre rather than completely forked like a snake's.

Slow worms are typically grey-brown, with the females having a coppery sheen and two lateral black stripes, and the males displaying electric blue
Electric blue
Electric blue is a very bright color reminiscent of a spark, named after the color of an argon sign. It is very similar to cyan.Additionally, the term may refer to:-Biology:...

 spots, particularly in the breeding season. They give birth to live young; the young are about 4 cm (1.6 in) long at birth and generally have golden stripes.

Slow worms have grooved teeth which allow them to grab and swallow whole their soft invertebrate
An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species – all animals except those in the chordate subphylum Vertebrata .Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group...

 prey, such as slug
Slug is a common name that is normally applied to any gastropod mollusc that lacks a shell, has a very reduced shell, or has a small internal shell...

s, hairless caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

s and earthworm
Earthworm is the common name for the largest members of Oligochaeta in the phylum Annelida. In classical systems they were placed in the order Opisthopora, on the basis of the male pores opening posterior to the female pores, even though the internal male segments are anterior to the female...

s. Snail
Snail is a common name applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. When the word is used in its most general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails. The word snail without any qualifier is however more often...

s are usually avoided, except when they are still very young and the shell can be easily broken.

Slow worms are frequently found in garden compost heaps, or any place where it is both warm and protected. They range across most of Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and into parts of Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, although they are restricted to temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 and humid habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

s. They hibernate from October to February/March, both communally and solitarily, and sometimes share hibernating sites with other reptiles.

They are protected in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...



Subfamily Anguinae
  • Genus Anguis
    • Anguis cephallonica
      Peloponnese Slow Worm
      The Peloponnese Slow Worm is a species of lizard in the Anguidae family.It is endemic to Greece. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, temperate shrubland, Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, temperate grassland, arable land, pastureland, plantations and rural gardens.-References:*...

      , Peloponnese Slow Worm — Werner, 1894
    • Anguis fragilis
      Anguis fragilis
      Anguis fragilis, or slow worm, slow-worm or slowworm, is a limbless reptile native to Eurasia. It is also sometimes referred to as the blindworm or blind worm, though the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds considers this to be incorrect.Slow worms are semi-fossorial lizards spending much...

      , Slow Worm — Linnaeus, 1758
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