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Help identifying dead snake in garden please

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: ARG UK - Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK
Forum Name: ARG UK
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URL: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=5238
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Topic: Help identifying dead snake in garden please
Posted By: smipx
Subject: Help identifying dead snake in garden please
Date Posted: 21 Aug 2018 at 10:48am
Hi all,

I wonder if anyone would be kind enough to identify this snake "corpse" for me.  I found it on the back lawn today by the wildlife pond.  The head has been removed by (presumably) a bird/cat/fox or something.  

Shame - its the first snake encountered since we put the pond in 2 years ago.

We live in Bideford North Devon if that helps. The snake/slow worm/reptile was pretty small.  A centimetre or so in girth and maybe 12-16" long.

the image is here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1euvWwTc0BLILqydFrUxBZLs6rkF1P3L3" rel="nofollow - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1euvWwTc0BLILqydFrUxBZLs6rkF1P3L3

and a zoomed image here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XpSrjH1IraHRDNiKpNlAL9oeZwSxEXy7" rel="nofollow - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XpSrjH1IraHRDNiKpNlAL9oeZwSxEXy7

Thanks
Paul




Replies:
Posted By: Iowarth
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2018 at 7:33pm
Hi Paul
Sorry it has taken a few days to authorise your post - I have been unable to access the internet.

So far as your dead snake is concerned, this appears to be a rather splendidly marked slowworm - so actually a legless lizard. Very much to be welcomed in the garden though - help control slugs!

All the best
Chris


-------------
Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)


Posted By: smipx
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2018 at 10:39pm
Hi,

Thanks for that Chris,

you know - I had a feeling in the back of my mind that it might be a slow worm but the pictures in my Collins book of Garden Wildlife are shockingly inadequate :-)

Should have Google'd it though as its plain to see now that I have - ha ha.

Thanks
Paul



Posted By: will
Date Posted: 25 Aug 2018 at 11:55am
Agree with Chris, also its head appears to be very much present.  It's on its back and those lovely speckles are therefore on its undersides. 


Posted By: smipx
Date Posted: 25 Aug 2018 at 12:37pm
You are absolutely right - the tongue I took to be "sinews" of a severance but now on close inspection I can see the head too!

Any thoughts as to why it might have died then?  I know the farmers field behind was winter barley and it was harvested a few weeks ago then last week the farmer came around and sprayed something over the stubble - much to my constant annoyance as I always worry about the overspray getting into my pond and doing damage to the life in there (toads, newts, etc.). No idea what he was spaying but my guess is it was a weed killer to kill all the weeds prior to ploughing the stubble back in.  Such a shame - for years it was a haylage field with sheep for a few weeks a year but now its pretty barren.

The only other thing i spray is garlic/oil/soap on the hostas to deter the slugs (which works quite well btw) but I wouldn't have thought that would kill a reptile - but I'm no expert of course. Since the pond we have stopped spraying any chemicals and are taking the hit on pests and diseases (especially the Dahlias with damage by capsid bugs and the veggies with slug damage). The only chemical I do use is a ferrous slug pellet but only very early in the season around the runner beans and lettuce).

Cheers,
Paul



Posted By: will
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2018 at 9:59am
I can't tell from the photo - if there were any puncture wounds then I would go for a predatory bird or the usual suspect, the domestic cat.  Sometimes slowworms can look intact even when they have been punctured because the osteoderms (bony plates) under the skin can close over the wound and disguise bite/claw punctures.  Impossible to tell if it was due to poisoning - given that slowworms feed mostly on slugs and that they can live for a long time they would be likely candidates for death by bio-accumulation of toxins, I reckon.  


Posted By: smipx
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2018 at 11:34am
Yea I guess I'll never know. 
On the plus side - I never knew I had them so at least I now know :-)

thanks
Paul




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