They look like snakes and act like snakes, but slow worms are actually a type of native legless lizard. Varying in colour from grey to brown to bronze, they can be spotted if you see it blink, because snakes dont have eyelids like lizards do. Slow worms are significantly less withdrawn than British snake species and can frequently be found in back gardens up and down the UK.
Outdoors experts from GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk have revealed the different snakes and lizards that can be found in UK gardens.
From the venomous European viper and the rare smooth snake to the viviparous lizard and slow worm, herpetophobes might want to look away now.
Distribution of the rare sand lizard is patchy but it can be found near the coast across the country and is legally protected as a threatened species under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is the only egg-laying lizard in the UK and can be seen in the summer months, but will shelter underground at night and during the winter.
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Smooth snakes are comparably rare, though they are most likely to be found in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey or West Sussex. Closely resembling the adder, a smooth snake is also cautious but can be distinguished by its thinner body, less well formed scale patter and lack of venom.
Also known as ringed snakes or water snakes, the grass snake favours habitats close to sources of water, can swim well and feeds mainly on amphibians. Common throughout England and Wales, this non-venomous snake is the largest snake native to Britain and can reach a length of over four foot.
Although their range is naturally confined to southern Europe, two populations of Aesculapians exist in the UK, derived from escaped snakes. They could be found in London or North Wales neighbourhoods, feed on rodents such as rats and are also not venomous.
The common European viper (also known as adders) can be found right across mainland UK, is usually about two foot long and has a venomous bite. Theyre generally quite shy and reclusive, but could bite your feet or ankles in self-defence if disturbed, or your hands if theyre picked up. Nobody has died from adder venom in Britain for several decades, but bites are commonly reported as the weather improves and they come out of winter hibernation. Pets could be unable to cope with the swelling, nausea, dizziness or potential allergic reaction that a viper bite can cause, with children and the elderly also at increased risk of severe consequences.
Viviparous, or common, lizards can be seen in a range of colours, from greens and greys to oranges and yellows. This non-marine reptile gives birth to its live young in every part of the UK and Ireland, usually eats small insects and spiders, and hibernated during the colder months.