RSPB
Print page

Are slow-worms suitable to keep as pets?

Sent in by Charlee Armitage Hindwood

Slow-worms are not at all suitable to keep as pets - as specialised reptiles they don't take to captivity very well and are far better off in the wild, where they belong.

They are burrowing lizards which spend most of their lives out of sight under rocks or logs, so you probably wouldn't see much of them anyway.

They are commonly found in gardens and by creating the right environment for them in yours you can attract them and encourage them to stay. Black plastic tiles, sheets of corrugated iron or large stones will make ideal basking areas for them - they prefer to hide under warm objects as opposed to basking in the open sun.

Creating dark, damp areas with dead wood and rocks in a corner of your garden will also provide a good hunting ground for them by attracting the prey they need to live on - a compost heap is an ideal habitat for this as they are damp and warm.

They are very useful to have in the garden as they feed on many things that we would regard as pests, such as slugs and snails, and they'll also eat insects spiders and worms.

The slow-worm's biggest enemy is the domestic cat, but they are also eaten by foxes, badgers and hedgehogs - providing them with plenty of hiding places can help them to avoid conflict with predators.

Slow-worms are protected in the UK under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). This makes it illegal to kill, injure, sell or trade wild slow-worms.

The ideal conditions that slow-worms require to thrive are very difficult (and expensive) to re-create in a captive environment. It's far better to allow them to live in the wild, behaving naturally and playing their vital role within your local ecosystem.

See our Homes for Wildlife pages for more information on how to create an environment for wildlife in your garden.

Contact us

If you do have have a wildlife-related question you have not been able to find the answer to, please contact us. Click on the link below to go to our Contact Us page.

Contact us

Back to basics

  • Homes for Wildlife

In more depth