Search This Blog

Apr 14, 2015

The Anguis fragilis of Bensberg

It's common name is Blindschleiche in German, and blindworm or slowworm in English, and it's the first time I've ever seen one.

It's not big, but it's cute.
He (or she) visited me today just outside my window. I'm a basement dweller at the observatory in Bensberg, but I do have a window that looks out over the back garden.

Slither in repose.
We saw him (or her) just by accident, tanking some sun. I've named it Slither.

Slither with tongue.

 After tolerating a couple of minutes of picture-taking, the Blindschleiche skedaddled under a huge pile of dried leaves between the cement steps and my window. I'm hoping that it lives nearby and that I get a chance to see him/her again (and find out its gender).

So what is it, you might be asking? Even though it looks like a baby grass snake, Anguis fragilis is a reptile, a sort of legless lizard. According to Wikipedia, it's not blind, but apparently can't see very well. The fragilis part of the name apparently comes from its ability to break off a part of its tail (which then continues to writhe, thus distracting its would-be devourer). The tail grows back.

If you have one of these beauties in your garden, count yourself lucky. They eat slugs. But they don't have any defenses against cats or dogs, unfortunately.

Go here for the English Wikipedia entry.
The German entry is much much better.

The postman peeps twice!
I only wish the frogs would return. They got chased away during an excavation last year and since then have only been back sporadically.

And we're eagerly awaiting the nesting season to see if the robin redbreast makes her nest in our mailbox again.