The Slow Worm {l’orvet} and the Sacrificial Tail

It seems like the slow worm had both me and the Magpie fooled. On escorting the wife past the “dead” snake this is what we saw.

This is the fourth one we have found on the property and this one is possibly male the others were female with a much more distinct stripe.

From Wikipedia

The slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is a reptile native to Eurasia. It is also called a deaf adder, a slowworm, a blindworm, or regionally, a long-cripple, to distinguish it from the Peloponnese slowworm. These legless lizards are also sometimes called common slowworms. The “blind” in blindworm refers to the lizard’s small eyes, similar to a blindsnake (although the slowworm’s eyes are functional).

Slow worms are semifossorial (burrowing) lizards, spending much of their time hiding underneath objects. The skin of slow worms is smooth with scales that do not overlap one another. Like many other lizards, they autotomize, meaning that they have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators. While the tail regrows, it does not reach its original length. In the UK, they are common in gardens, and can be encouraged to enter and help remove pest insects by placing black plastic or a piece of tin on the ground. On warm days, one or more slow worms can often be found underneath these heat collectors. One of the biggest causes of mortality in slow worms in suburban areas is the domestic cat, against which it has no defense.

{What I thought was a missing head is a missing tail. I guess the slowworm played dead to outsmart the Magpie.}

Size and longevity

Adult slow worms grow to be about 50 cm (20″) long, and are known for their exceptionally long lives; the slow worm may be the longest-living lizard, living about 30 years in the wild and up to at least 54 years in captivity (this record is held by a male slow worm that lived at the Copenhagen Zoo from 1892 until 1946, the age when first obtained is unknown). The female often has a stripe along the spine and dark sides, while the male may have blue spots dorsally. Juveniles of both sexes are gold with dark brown bellies and sides with a dark stripe along the spine.

Protected status in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the slow worm has been granted protected status, alongside all other native British reptile species. The slow worm has been decreasing in numbers, and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to intentionally kill, injure, sell, or advertise to sell them is illegal.