Page last updated at 06:10 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 07:10 UK
Slow worms colonise landfill site in Cardiff Bay
Slow worm
It is an offence to kill or injure a slow worm in the UK

A project to relocate slow worms from a housing development plot near Cardiff Bay to a former landfill site has succeeded.

850 slow worms were moved to Grangemoor Park in 2006 when Bovis developed land along Ferry Road.

Slow worms are legless lizards and are one of only six reptile species native to the British Isles.

It is an offence to kill a reptile, so the builders had to move the worms before bringing in the bulldozers.

Matthew Harris

Monitoring over three consecutive years has shown that the slow worms have survived and babies have been found, indicating that they are now breeding.

Matthew Harris is an ecologist for Cardiff County Council and was involved with the project.

"The mix of tall grass and small bushes is an ideal habitat," he said.

"What we've got is a mosaic which is beneficial to the slow worms - of shaded areas where they can hide and rest, and areas which are exposed to the sun where they can bask and increase their body temperature."

Grangemoor Park is located on an old landfill site in Cardiff Bay and is now abundant with all kinds of wildlife.

"It's a real success", said Matthew.

The view from Grangemoor Park
Grangemoor Park offers spectacular views of Cardiff on a good day

"There's all sorts of butterflies and insects, skylarks and ground nesting birds as well as orchids.

"The pond at the bottom of the site has two species of newts, as well as a whole range of dragonfly and damselfly species.

"Considering it's on top of landfill, it's doing really well."

But for the slow worms, the vegetation is already becoming too dense.

The worms don't like a stark contrast between tall trees and cut mown grass paths.

A biodiversity local action plan is in place to ensure that the vegetation remains favourable to the worms.

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