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Animal Themes
Reptiles
Slow Worms



Slow Worms
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.21

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    tuataras, crocodilians, closable, manta, ovoviviparous, slowworms, scaly, shortly, worldwide, anatomical, cylindrical, death, flicker, indicate, reproduction, encounter


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Slow Worms   

1     Slow worms (or slowworms) are animals that can cause a lot of confusion. They have long, cylindrical bodies and burrowing habits that remind us of earthworms. But, their scaly outfits clearly indicate that they are not worms. Rather, they are reptiles, a group of animals that include turtles, snakes, lizards, tuataras, and crocodilians.
 
2     But that's not all that's confusing! Slow worms have no limbs and like to flicker their tongues. We may quickly conclude that they are snakes. Surprisingly, that is proven wrong, too. Snakes do not have closable eyelids. Snakes cannot break off their tails at a life-and-death situation. Their lizard cousins, on the contrary, possess both physical features. Since slow worms meet the two anatomical characterizations, they are lizards after all. Though slow worms can regenerate their tails after a safe escape, they can never grow their tails to the full length they had before their close encounter with death.
 
3     Growing up to two feet long, slow worms have shiny skin colors ranging from brown to gray to red. Before they mature at about three years old, young slow worms have a central stripe running down their backs. Females tend to keep this marking even as adults, but males do not. Aside from this notable difference, there are several other ways to determine if we are looking at a male or a female slow worm. For example, if the animal in question has blue spots on its body, a broad head, or a belly mottled black or dark gray, it is mostly likely a "he."

Paragraphs 4 to 6:
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