A study of a translocated population of Anguis Fragilis in Cornwall, UK

Casey Fuke


A population of slow-worms were monitored throughout August and September 2010 at a roadside location near Dobwalls, Cornwall. The population was released onto the site in 2009 and one of the aims of the study was to determine if the population was surviving in their new habitat. Follow up work post-translocation is rarely done in the UK.
The vegetation was predominantly saplings, young shrubs and rough grassland and black roof felt was used as refugia to attract the slow-worms. The site was visited two to three times a week and the temperature, weather, invertebrates present, sex or age and location of the slow-worms were recorded.
The results found that the site was abundant in invertebrate species that slow-worms could feed on and it was unlikely their distribution was determined by the food source alone. It was also apparent that the site contained smaller microhabitats of damp, sunny and overgrown areas that influenced the slow-worms‟ location.
It is possible that some individuals had migrated up to 267m from the release point in the one year of being on site. It is a complex combination of many environmental factors that determine where the slow-worms are on site.
The weather conditions including the temperature are very important factors in observing the slow-worms under the refuges. The optimum conditions were 15°C with at least 40% cloud cover and a moderate breeze. When it was too cold or hot very few were recorded.
The distribution of the population in terms of gender and age was heavily weighted towards females and juveniles. This could be due to the fact that they tend to bask and utilise the refuges more or because there were more females in the population but probably due to both.
A number of recommendations have been made including an extended monitoring area and a more detailed food source survey.

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