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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Rare lizards slow up housing work
Slow-worm
Slow-worms must not be moved from their habitat during hibernation
A housing development in West Sussex has been delayed by seven months to allow a colony of slow-worms to be relocated from the building site.

Some of the protected species were discovered during an ecological survey at Forest Road, Midhurst.

Slow-worms, which can grow up to 35cm (14in) in length, look like snakes but are actually legless lizards.

The creatures are being moved to a specially selected habitat at nearby Cowdray Park.

"Operation Go Slow" began in April, with hundreds of slow-worms being found and taken away.

Attracted to 'hotspot'

Leslie Hoult, from the Downland Housing Association, said: "You can't move the reptiles during their hibernation period, which is from September to March depending on the seasonal weather changes, so we have actually had a delay.

"But obviously we're delighted that we're able to move the slow-worms to another location which is similar to the environment they're in at the moment."

The slow-worms are gathered by placing tins and carpet tiles on the ground, which Thurlow Countryside Management said attracted them "to a 'hotspot' from where we can easily find and remove them the next day".

The creatures are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The removal should be complete by July or August, when building work on 46 flats and houses can then begin.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Slow worms have been found at a housing development



SEE ALSO
Speedy rescue plan for slow worms
09 Jun 06 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Guard hired to look after 'worms'
06 Sep 04 |  Gloucestershire

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