Slow worm conservation at Croome

A slow worm asleep in the grass

Croome’s parkland is pleased to see its slow worms are flourishing since their relocation over five years ago.

On-going conservation of their habitat hopes to help them thrive at Croome.

Back in 2013, six hundred slow worms were moved from a site in Pershore to an area of land within Croome’s  700 acre parkland.  This was considered an ideal relocation spot as it had a similar soil structure and plant species to their previous home with no other existing slow worm populations. It also provides a habitat in which they can hunt and hide safe from cats and dogs which often pose a threat to them.

The parkland team have recently made improvements to these areas by strimming 3 metre square expanses of grass and covering with sections of corrugated iron and roofing felt. Being cold blooded, slow worms rely on the warmth of the sun so will bask on these and warm up away from the shade of the longer grass and shrubs and safe from the risk of predation.

Checking for slow worms under the corrugated sheet
checking for slow worms under the corrugated sheet
Checking for slow worms under the corrugated sheet

Hibernation sites (Hibernacula) were also created providing areas where the animals can take shelter in the winter and find safe refuge to hibernate.

Slow worms, which are legless lizards rather than a worm or snake, are relatively common in the United Kingdom and can often be found in compost heaps, enjoying the warmth.   They feed on worms, slugs and other invertebrates. The oldest recorded slow worm was a reported 54 years old, but generally they will live about 30 years in the wild and grow up to about 50 cm long. 

Craig Welsby - Assistant Ranger with a slow worm
Craig Welsby - Assistant Ranger with a slow worm
Craig Welsby - Assistant Ranger with a slow worm

“The speed with which slow worms (and other reptiles) started using the strimmed  areas demonstrates the importance of basking areas for these cold-blooded animals, anyone with an overgrown bit of garden can provide similar habitat by creating a few areas of shorter vegetation and laying down small corrugated ‘tins’ or pieces of roofing felt.  Even if there are no reptiles around, these areas are likely to be used by voles and invertebrates.”  Craig Welsby - Assistant Ranger.

As a conservation charity, it's vital that we look after these places so that wildlife such as slow worms can continue to thrive and every penny that visitors spend on entrance fees, buying a cup of tea or a gift in the shop helps towards this work.