We have a ‘slow worm’ resident in our compost

This limbless lizard certainly lives up to its name! When I lifted the old carpet section laid out on our compost box, I revealed this fellow. I ambled back to the house, retrieved my phone and ambled back. He was still there, looking around with his little eyes. I don’t actually know our slow worm’s gender. At the time of snapping its image, I didn’t want to get too close, in case I’d found an adder. It did look coiled as if ready to strike.

But we are confident that our compost denizen is a slow worm. This is the first specimen I’ve ever seen — a native of western Eurasia, they don’t seem to inhabit North America’s land mass. Nor have they occupied Ireland, though some have apparently been sighted in Co Claire on The Burren. Of course, they do look very much like a snake, and St Patrick banished all snakes from the Emerald Isle, didn’t he? He might have been as surprised as I was to discover the slow worm in our compost, considering that we moved into our new home on the 17th of March!

The fiercest predator of the slow worm, a protected species here in the UK, is the domestic cat. And our Kali cat has lately been revelling in the outdoors. So we’ll have to hope that she doesn’t attack our compost occupant. Fortunately, it was still there when I replaced the carpet fragment, so I hope it will have a sufficiently safe hiding place.

So my little joy today is the opportunity to reflect on the wild friends, both fauna and flora, around us. Although there’s quite a campaign afoot to forestall lawn mowing until after May (No Mow May), the mowing I did achieve yesterday merely cut the tops off the few grass leaves that have emerged from the bed of moss, and there are plenty of wildflowers in the contiguous, unmanaged borders that I’ve left for propagation purposes. And besides, had I not mowed, I’d not have revealed the slow worm, and taken steps to keep it safe.

Meanwhile, the moss covering our back garden is so lush, so thick and spongy, that the invertebrates will not have been disturbed by the electric brmm of the mower cruising overhead. And the garden looks very neat and tidy now too.

Perhaps the best of all worlds then, and I can get myself settled into my quiet study for a tidy bit of writing. I’ve got one, no two tasks sorted out, to be on deck as it were, ready for submission, and another one to expedite. And my regular archival chores too, of course.

Though I do rather envy the slow worm, staying unhurried, warm and cosy underneath its carpet covering, bothering no one, and unbothered itself.

One response to “We have a ‘slow worm’ resident in our compost”

  1. Henry L Renn Avatar
    Henry L Renn

    Larry, My office for psychotherapy was at ground level in a converted old mill. Occasionally snakes would poke their heads out of cracks in stone wall. Great for clients with anxiety or ophidiophobia. One year exterminators sprayed a certain powder down to foundation and bottom of walls. I was at another office when it was done but I heard that the snalkes that fled were too numerous to count. Must have been like St. Patrick driving snakes out of Ireland.


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