This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Blind-worm or Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis), Fig. 53, belongs to the skink family (Scincida), and forms a connecting link between the lizards and the snakes. Though snake-like in form and having no appearance of external limbs, the bones of the shoulders and pelvis exist in a rudimentary form. It is about 1 ft. in length, nearly equal in thickness, but rather more slender towards the tail, the tip of which is abrupt. The upper surface is brownish-grey with a silvery sheen, a black line running down the middle of the back, several rows of obscure dark dots being present at the sides, and the under-parts are bluish-black. Eyes very small, but brilliant, hence the name "blind-worm."
Fig. 53. - The Blind-worm or Slow-worm.
The Blind-worm is found in every part of Great Britain, but not in Ireland. Country people, like Shakespeare, regard it as the "eyeless venomous worm" and have a dread of the" blind-worm's sting," but both without cause, as it rarely bites, and scarcely makes any impression on the skin, its teeth being very small. When frightened, it so stiffens its muscles and becomes so rigid that its tail snaps off with a slight blow; even its fright is so great sometimes that it leaves this member behind it. Its food consists of worms, slugs, and insects. In summer it basks in the sun on a sunny bank, beneath a hedge, or under rocks or old walls. During winter it remains in a state of torpidity, generally burrowing or taking advantage of clefts in the ground beyond the reach of frost, for the purpose of hybernating. It is ova-viviparous, the young being hatched from the egg in the body of the parent before being brought into the world.