One of the delights of having an allotment is the wildlife you cross paths with while working on your plot. On our allotment plot there are a healthy population of slow-worms making a home in the compost bins and in other areas of cover and warmth scattered around about. Slow-worms of all ages and sizes varying between bronze, light brown, grey and a shiny darker brown. Some with pointed tails and some with the stubby look – that suggests their tail has been grabbed at by a cat or other predator.
The slow-worm is not a snake and certainly not a worm like the name suggests, in fact the slow-worm is a legless lizard. Sometimes called a deaf adder, but, needless to say, it is not actually an adder or even related and definitely is not venomous. The scientific name for the slow-worm is Anguis fragilis. They are very slow moving and tend to keep to compost heaps and bins as being cold blooded they need the external warmth to remain active.
The slow-worm is the gardeners friend, in as much as, they feed at night on slugs and worms – and I underline slugs mainly! They vary in colour to copper (young) to grey and brown (adult) on my plot. They are distributed all across the UK. I kept slow-worms in a glass aquarium when I was a young boy, feeding them the occasional worm; thinking back now, it seems a bit cruel as they are definitely meant for the freedom of the wild.
So other animals you might come across on an allotment might include, frogs, if you decide to put in a pond – like me, butterflies, ladybirds, wasps (of course) and a whole assortment of bees. The less obvious, but most welcome, woodlice, beetles and spiders and of course the gardeners nemesis the slug (not so welcome)! With the rather devastating news we had today on humans impact on the natural world – we need to be considering, supporting and encouraging all these rather wonderful creatures no matter which. We must remember to check the effect the chemicals we use on our plots have on all the animals and make sure they don’t harm any third parties. Every animal has their place, and no matter what you think, they all have a purpose on an allotment plot.
More people will be encouraged to get a plot on an allotment in the future, in fact I think I have already heard it mentioned in the media; or to grow vegetables in their gardens. So when you do get your own allotment plot, enjoy the very special relationships with the small gardeners accomplices and friends. Slow-worms particularly are a great addition to your compost heap 🙂