A. fragilis, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. i. p. 392. Turt. Brit. Faun. p. 81. Flem. Brit. An. p. 155. Cuv. Reg. An. torn. ii. p. 70. Csecilia, Ray, Syn. Quad. p. 289. Blind-Worm, Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 36. pl. 4. no. 15. Common Slow-Worm, Shaw, Gen. Zool. vol. iii. p. 579.
Length from ten to twelve inches; rarely more.
(Form). Head small; body larger (more bulky in the female than in the male), cylindrical, and of nearly equal thickness throughout; tail long, equalling half the entire length, sometimes more, blunt at the extremity: eyes small: gape extending a little beyond the eyes: teeth small, slightly hooked, with the points directed backwards: tongue broad; the tip deeply notched: upper part of the head covered with squamous plates; frontal large; parietal and interparietal plates moderately developed, the latter of a triangular form, with the apex directed backwards: sides of the head, throat, and all the upper as well as under surface of the body and tail, covered with small imbricated scales of a rounded form and not keeled; those on the sides set obliquely with respect to the axis of the body. (Colours). Glistening brownish gray above, inclining to reddish on the sides; bluish black beneath: along the back several parallel rows of small dark spots: sometimes all the upper surface light yellowish brown without spots; the sides only marked with a dusky fascia, commencing behind the eyes, and reaching to the extremity of the tail. Obs. The markings are most distinct in young specimens.
† This plate Edwards calls disque masseterin. See Ann. des Sci. Nat. torn. xvi. pl. 7. f. 3., where is a representation of the side of the head in this species.
‡ For a more detailed account of the above species, as well as of some others found on the Continent, which may possibly occur in England, I refer the reader to two valuable memoirs, already alluded to, one by Milne Edwards the other by Duges, in the 16th volume of the Annates des Sciences Natureltes. In the same memoirs will be found an explanation of the nomenclature employed in designating the different external parts of these animals, more particularly of the plates on the upper part of the head, which furnish important characters for distinguishing some nearly allied species.
I would also recommend to our own naturalists, in drawing up descriptions of these Reptiles in future, to pay more attention to form, as opposed to colour. This last can scarcely ever be depended upon. It not only varies to a very great extent in the same species, but in the same individual, according to age, season, and the period of time which may have elapsed since the last moult of the cuticle. Edwards has observed that in general the spots arc more regular and better defined in young, than in adult specimens.
Common in most parts of the country. Frequents woods and gardens. Feeds on worms and insects. Is ovoviviparous. Motion slow.
Nat. torn. i. p. 392. Aberdeen Snake, Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. III. p. 35.
" Length fifteen inches: tongue broad and forked: nostrils small, round, and placed near the tip of the nose: eyes lodged in oblong fissures above the angle of the mouth: belly of a bluish lead-colour, marked with small white spots irregularly disposed: the rest of the body grayish brown, with three longitudinal dusky lines, one extending from the head along the back to the point of the tail; the others broader, and extending the whole length of the sides: no scuta; but entirely covered with small scales; largest on the upper part of the head." Penn.
The above is a description of a Snake, communicated to Linnaeus and Pennant by the late Dr. David Skene, and said to inhabit Aberdeenshire. It is probably nothing more than a variety of the common A.fragilis.