Rare slowworm found in allotment

ALLOTMENT keepers have unearthed a surprise specimen among their prized vegetables.Much to the joy of Suffolk Wildlife Trust officials, an allotment in Sudbury has turned out to be an unexpected haven for the endangered slow worm.

ALLOTMENT keepers have unearthed a surprise specimen among their prized vegetables.

Much to the joy of Suffolk Wildlife Trust officials, an allotment in Sudbury has turned out to be an unexpected haven for the endangered slow worm.

A recent survey found more than 50 slow worms nesting among the allotments, which could also be hiding grass snakes and common lizards.

In light of the find the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has now launched a project to show the value allotments can provide for endangered wildlife.

In many urban areas allotments are the only habitat for many species of wildlife.

Trust officials yesterday gathered at the Sudbury allotment to launch its new project.

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It is now publishing a free fact sheet revealing the history behind the allotment movement and its importance to both people and wildlife.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust conservation manager Dorothy Casey said: "A large proportion of this site consists of actively managed allotments. The holders have undertaken further habitat improvements in the form of compost heaps – which are great for slow worm and grass snakes – and the construction of woodpiles which prove attractive to basking common lizard and provide a home for many insects."

The trust is now calling for all allotment holders to incorporate some wild features into their patches.

"If people find there are a couple of vacant plots on their allotment site, we would encourage them to consider laying the entire area aside for wildlife to use. This may include woodpiles, areas of rough grassland, hedges and scrub – especially bramble, which is super for providing both cover and food. Our new fact sheet will reveal how to positively manage such a space for a range of species," added Ms Casey.

For a free copy of SWTs allotment factsheet, people should send a SAE to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Brooke House, Ashbocking, Ipswich IP6 9JY.

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