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Slownado! - Westliche Blindschleiche (Anguis fragilis)

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posted by Yannick Weinand alias Weinand Wildlife on Tuesday 29th of September 2015 07:27:27 AM

More Anguis agilis than Anguis fragilis if you ask me.^^ Although the slow worm is one of the most common reptiles in Germany as well as in Europe, actually finding one was not in the cards for me since I started my wildlife photography about a year ago. I encountered wall lizards and grass snakes, natterjacks and even fire salamanders before I could finally aim my lense at one of these fascinating legless lizards. Slowly approaching the end of the season for most herpetological species I was actually out for wall lizards but had not much luck in the Podarcis department. So I stopped shooting and instead started to search the mud traps of some drains near the habitat for trapped animals. I found a few dead critters but could rescue about a dozen common toads, three common frogs, two edible frogs, a crayfish and six ground beetles of the genus Carabus. So even without any usable shots it would have been a day well spent. (Pro-tip: Toads and crayfish often burrow into the muck until they hit the mud trap's bottom, so be thorough!) Back again near the dry stone wall some bronze shimmer amongst the gravel of the rain drainage system of an adjacent building cought my eye and somehow instantly I thought "slow worm". And indeed, the specimen was about 15 cm long, had already lost and regenerated it's tail and seemed to me by colouration to be a young female. Taking her to the dry wall and placing her down for a shot, the very calm and cooperative animal suddenly got agitated and sprang into the stance you can see above. I refrained from bothering her further after that and left her to bury herself beneath the cover of larch needles. I have never ever heard of any threatening or defence postures in slow worms and could not find any sources on it afterwards. However there is another shot by M. Mergemeier showing a similar stance they identify as "escape behaviour": Update: After searching the literature some more, I found this article by Cabido et al. mentioning “escape saltation” as a defensive behaviour in A. fragilis: I now believe I captured a fragmentary attempt at such a saltation, considering her keeping the stance for a couple of seconds and not fleeing immediatly. Nahe einer Natursteinmauer bei Bochum.

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  • Published 12.02.21
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