Can You Keep a Slow Worm as a Pet?

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Keeping reptiles as pets has become increasingly popular, with many people opting for snakes and lizards as companions.

However, there is another species that often goes overlooked: the slow worm.

Despite its name, the slow worm is not a worm at all but rather a legless lizard that can make an exciting and low-maintenance pet.

While slow worms are not as commonly kept as other reptiles, they can make great pets for those interested in observing their unique behaviors and natural habitat.

Slow worms are native to Europe and can be found in various habitats, including gardens, meadows, and forests.

They are typically brown-grey and can grow up to 50cm in length. Unlike snakes, slow worms have eyelids and can blink, and they also can shed their tails if they feel threatened.


Can You Keep a Slow Worm


Slow worms are legless lizards that are native to Europe, and they are often kept as pets.

However, before deciding to keep a slow worm, it is essential to consider whether it is legal and ethical.

In the UK, slow worms are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is illegal to capture, kill, or sell slow worms without a license.

Therefore, individuals are not recommended to keep slow worms as pets unless they have obtained the necessary permits.

Furthermore, slow worms have specific care requirements that must be met for them to thrive in captivity.

They require a large enclosure with appropriate temperature and humidity levels and a suitable diet consisting of insects and other small invertebrates.

Overall, while it is possible to keep slow worms as pets, ensuring that it is done legally and ethically and that the necessary care requirements are met is essential.


Legal Aspects of Keeping Slow Worms


Keeping slow worms as pets is legal in the United Kingdom. However, some legal aspects must be considered before keeping them as pets.

Slow worms are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

This means killing, injuring, or selling them is illegal. It is also illegal to disturb their habitat without a license. Therefore, anyone who wants to keep slow worms as pets must obtain them from a reputable breeder or supplier.

In addition, slow worms are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This means anyone who keeps slow worms as pets must provide them with a suitable environment, food, and water.

They must also take steps to ensure that the slow worms are not subjected to any unnecessary suffering.

It is also important to note that slow worms are not suitable pets for everyone. They require a specific environment and diet to thrive, and they can be difficult to care for.

Therefore, anyone who is considering keeping slow worms as pets should do their research and make sure that they can provide the necessary care and attention.

Overall, while keeping slow worms as pets in the United Kingdom is legal, it is essential to consider the legal aspects and ensure that the slow worms are well cared for.


Ideal Habitat for Slow Worms


Slow worms are a type of legless lizard that are commonly kept as pets. To keep them healthy and happy, providing them with an ideal habitat mimics their natural environment is essential.


Indoor Habitat


When keeping slow worms indoors, providing them with a spacious terrarium at least 24 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches tall is essential. The terrarium should be made of glass or plastic and have a secure lid to prevent escape.

The substrate should be a mixture of soil and sand at least 2 inches deep. Slow worms like to burrow, so it is essential to provide them with plenty of hiding spots, such as rocks, logs, and plants.

The temperature in the terrarium should be between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night. A heat lamp can be used to provide additional warmth if necessary.

Slow worms require a source of UVB lighting to metabolize calcium properly. A UVB bulb should be placed in the terrarium and replaced every 6 to 12 months.


Outdoor Habitat


If keeping slow worms outdoors, it is essential to provide them with a secure enclosure protected from predators and extreme weather conditions. The enclosure should be at least 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet tall.

The substrate should be a mixture of soil and sand, at least 4 inches deep. Slow worms like to burrow, so providing them with plenty of hiding spots, such as rocks, logs, and plants, is essential.

The enclosure should be placed in a sunny location but should also have shade areas to prevent overheating. A shallow dish of water should be provided for drinking and soaking.

Providing an ideal habitat for slow worms is essential for their health and well-being. By following these guidelines, owners can ensure their slow worms thrive in captivity.


Feeding Slow Worms


Slow worms are carnivorous and feed on invertebrates such as slugs, snails, spiders, and insects. They are particularly fond of earthworms, which should form the bulk of their diet.

It is essential to ensure that slow worms are given a varied diet to receive all the necessary nutrients. An excellent way to do this is to provide different types of food on different days.

One option is to feed slow worms with commercially available invertebrate food. These can be purchased from pet stores and are specifically formulated for reptiles.

It is essential to check the ingredients to ensure they are appropriate for slow worms.

Another option is to feed slow worms with live food. This can be done by collecting invertebrates from the garden or purchasing them from a pet store. It is important to avoid feeding slow worms with insects caught using pesticides or other chemicals.

Slow worms should be fed once every two to three days. It is important not to overfeed them as this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

Overall, slow worms are fairly easy to feed and can thrive on a diet of earthworms and other invertebrates. It is essential to ensure that they are not overfed and given a varied diet.


Health Concerns in Slow Worms


Slow worms are generally healthy reptiles. However, there are some health concerns that owners should be aware of to ensure their slow worms remain healthy.


One common health concern in slow worms is the presence of parasites. Slow worms are susceptible to internal parasites like roundworms and tapeworms, which can cause weight loss, diarrhea, and other health issues.

Owners should take their slow worms to a veterinarian for regular checkups to ensure they are parasite-free.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are another health concern in slow worms. Symptoms of respiratory infections include lethargy, wheezing, and discharge from the nose. Owners should keep their slow worms in a warm and dry environment to prevent respiratory infections.


Slow worms shed their skin periodically, and owners should monitor the shedding process. If the skin does not come off easily, it can cause irritation and infection. Owners should keep the enclosure moist to facilitate the shedding process.


Slow worms require a balanced diet to remain healthy. Owners should provide a varied diet that includes insects, snails, and slugs. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can cause health issues.

In conclusion, owners should be aware of the health concerns that slow worms can face. Regular checkups, a balanced diet, and a suitable environment can help keep slow worms healthy.


Interacting with Your Slow Worm


When interacting with your slow worm, it’s important to remember that they are not like other pets. Slow worms are not social creatures and do not crave attention or affection from humans. They may become stressed or frightened if handled too much or too often.

That being said, there are some ways that you can interact with your slow worm safely and respectfully. Here are a few tips:

  • Handling: If you choose to handle your slow worm, do so gently and without squeezing or pulling. Slow worms have delicate skin that can easily tear, so it’s essential to be careful. Additionally, be sure to wash your hands before and after handling to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • Feeding: Slow worms are carnivorous and eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. You can offer them live food, such as crickets, mealworms, or pre-killed food. Be sure to provide fresh water in a shallow dish as well.
  • Observation: One of the best ways to interact with your slow worm is to observe them. Slow worms are fascinating creatures with unique behaviors and habits. Please set up a terrarium with appropriate substrate, hiding spots, and a basking area, and watch your slow worms as they go about their day.

Slow worms are wild animals and should be treated with respect and care. If you have concerns about your slow worm’s health or behavior, consult a veterinarian or a reptile expert.


Common Misconceptions About Slow Worms


There are several common misconceptions about slow worms that people often believe. Some of these misconceptions are:

  • Slow worms are snakes: Slow worms are often mistaken for snakes because of their long, slender bodies. However, they are not snakes but are legless lizards. Unlike snakes, slow worms have eyelids and can blink. They also have a tail that can break off if a predator attacks them.
  • Slow worms are dangerous: Slow worms are harmless and are not venomous. They do not pose any threat to humans or pets. Slow worms benefit gardens and the environment by eating slugs, snails, and other pests.
  • Slow worms are rare: Slow worms are quite common in many parts of Europe, including the UK. However, because they are shy and elusive creatures, people often mistake them for snakes or do not notice them.
  • Slow worms are difficult to keep as pets: While they can be kept as pets, they require specific care and conditions to thrive. They need a large, secure enclosure with plenty of hiding places and a heat source. They also require a diet of live insects and other invertebrates. Because of these requirements, slow worms are not recommended as pets for beginners.

Overall, it is essential to understand the true nature of slow worms and dispel any misconceptions about them. They are fascinating creatures that play a crucial role in the ecosystem and should be appreciated for their unique qualities.

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