Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Story of the Toad, the Squirrel and the Slow Worm

gunnera plant leaves

Struggling through Cornwall's jungle you never really know what you might encounter but, gulp, what is this creature heading our way? A prehistoric monster perhaps or maybe some sort of ancient crocodile? 

Big toad

Looking up at the tall leaves I imagined how we must have fallen into another dimension and been zoomed back in time.

Gunnera plant leaves

The creature continued in our direction wearing an ugly grin.


Great relief when we discovered it was only Mr. Toad. He had been shopping for insect larvae, spiders, slugs and worms. A tasty meal for him.


He hopped along and disappeared into the undergrowth.


As we wearily wandered home we saw a flash of a tail as we reached our front porch. But then all was silent. What did, whoever it was, want with us?

Squirrel's tail

I sat on a chair, looking out, while I took off my dirty shoes. Suddenly this little fellow was trying to get into the porch. 

Not sure what he wanted but he scratched on the window to try to enter. 

By the time I grabbed my camera I was too slow to get a good photo. The squirrel was persistent though. He kept running away and then jumping at the glass to get in. No idea why.

He wasn't the least bit bothered that I was clearly sitting close to the window. After several attempts he grumpily moved away and in a flash was gone.

Squirrel trying to get in window

A little later, as we had a refreshing cup of tea in the back garden and spotted a long slow worm (about 18"/ 50 cm) by our fence - but I didn't have a camera with me.

Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) are legless lizards but to me they are like snakes - and I don't like snakes!

I remember being in Morocco a while back and often in restaurants they would attempt to dangle a snake around your neck for some inexplicable reason. The way of nightmares!

Going back to the slow worm their breeding season starts in May and the males can get quite aggressive.

In the UK slow worms are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981so it is an offence to kill, injure or sell them.

All in all it made the day interesting - you never know what you might see in life.

Have a lovely day and stay safe.

Update : See photo below another slow worm in our garden, though smaller than the one we saw originally.


  1. A very interesting wildlife walk, I've never seen a Slow Worm. We had a slug & snail problem in our garden until some frogs found their way in several years ago. They've stayed, we saw one on our patio a couple of nights ago, and now slugs & snails are very rare in our garden. We seem to have plenty of empty snail shells and I think the Blackbirds are joining in too.
    I have to read my comments through as "predictive text" often tries to help! This time it had changed snail to email, and it's just done it again! 😠

    1. Thanks David. It's strange about the slow worm. It was the first one we had seen for about 40 years - but, since then, we have seen two more in our garden in two days, though not quite as big as the one we originally saw. We do get slugs unfortunately.

      I'm wondering what Boris will offer in his speech tonight.

    2. David, I have added a photo of the latest Slow Worm to the post.

  2. Well, I have never heard of a slow worm and so I have learned something new. We have plenty of snakes here, and I don’t mind them as long as I know where they are. I prefer to call your slow worms legless lizards because the name alone is strange since all worms are slow! Slugs are destructive to our plants but they are easily removed by setting out a saucer of beer. In spite of it all, what a great post! I bet your grandson would enjoy this one a lot!

    1. Luckily we rarely see a snake and if we do it is usually just a grass snake. There are also adders but I have never seen one.
      You are right Ann, I was thinking of my grandson when I was writing this post. Sadly have only been able to see him on FaceTime recently
      Thanks, I'll try your tip with the slugs..



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