Are there snakes in the Burren?

Rónán Burrenn with a slow worm.
Rónán Burrenn with a slow worm.

At first view it would seem that St Patrick has left some of his work undone in the Burren – with a species of snake-like creatures left to roam the grasslands of north Clare.
Despite appearances however, these slow worms are neither snakes or worms, but a species of legless lizards which have been living in the Burren since the 1970s.
Thought to have been introduced into Ireland by a tourist from the UK, this small area of the Burren is the only place on the island where a slow worm has ever been formally identified.
Local tour guide and founder of the Ireland’s Inner Beauty website, Rónán Burrenn, has discovered a number of these snake-like creatures between Mullaghmore and Carron in recent years.
After posting a picture of the snake-like creature he was inundated with questions – including from an American living in New York who wondered was it still safe to come to the Burren.
“It is not a snake or a worm, it is a legless lizard. It was brought over by an English person to Clare and released. It is not plentiful but it is known to be found in the Burren area,” said Ronan.
“In recent years I have found a few of them – mostly around Mullaghmore or over in Carron. I’ve come across them a lot over the years.
“You can understand how people confuse them for snakes. They are very much like snakes, their heads and their bodies, but they are only about seven inches long.
“A tourist called me from New York last week saying that they are staying in the Clare area, did they have to worry because they have children. It is a harmless legless lizard, it is not harmful or poisonous so there is nothing to worry about.”


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