Lindworm (cognate with Old Norse linnormr ‘constrictor snake’, Norwegian linnorm ‘dragon’, Swedish lindorm ‘serpent’, German Lindwurm ‘dragon’) in British heraldry, is a technical term for a wingless bipedal dragon often with a poisonous bite.

In modern Scandinavian languages, the cognate lindorm can refer to any ‘serpent’ or monstrous snake, but in Norwegian heraldry, it is also a technical term for a ‘seaserpent’ (sjøormer), although it may also stand for a ‘lindworm’ in British heraldry.


A two-legged, wingless lindworm on the Coat of Arms of Wurmannsquick. (from Wikimedia Commons)

Generally, the word lindworm stood for the Latin word draco (whence Norse dreki), thus could refer to any draconic creature, from a real life constrictor snake to a legendary dragon. In European mythology and folklore, creatures identified as a ‘lindworm’ may be winged or wingless, plus quadrupedal, bipedal or limbless. However late persistent tradition designates the lindworm as having no limbs, or just front claws (so that it must slither) in contrast to wyverns that have only hind-quarters (and possible claws on the end of its wings) and in contrast to dragons which have four limbs in addition to its wings. (from Wikipedia)

Many websites mention that the explorer Marco Polo reported seeing several lindworms while crossing the Steppes of Central Asia and that he described them as being quick and mighty enough to take down a man on a galloping horse. Here is a more detailed description from Book of Thoth

Marco Polo reported that in the “province of Carajan” (in South East Asia) there existed:

… snakes and great serpents of such vast size as to strike fear into those who see them, and so hideous that the very account of them must excite the wonder of those to hear it. … You may be assured that some of them are ten paces in length; some are more and some less. And in bulk they are equal to a great cask, for the bigger ones are about ten palms in girth. They have two forelegs near the head, but for foot nothing but a claw like the claw of a hawk or that of a lion. The head is very big, and the eyes are bigger than a great loaf of bread. The mouth is large enough to swallow a man whole, and is garnished with great [pointed] teeth. And in short they are so fierce-looking and so hideously ugly, that every man and beast must stand in fear and trembling of them. There are also smaller ones, such as of eight paces long, and of five, and of one pace only. (The Travels of Marco Polo, Ch. XLIX)

While sounding similar to lindworms, most scholars believe that Marco Polo was referring to crocodiles with his “serpents.”

There is a creature called the Tatzelwurm, mentioned in many Germanic legends, which has also been compared to the Lindworm.


The Tatzelwurm is a worm-like cryptid (i.e. its existence is not scientifically verified). It is reported to live in several areas of Europe, including the Austrian, Bavarian, Italian and Swiss Alps. In some circles, it is classified as a variety of lesser dragon.

Reports indicate that the creature has a snake-like body between 2 and 6 feet in length, with two clawed front legs, but no hind legs. It is sometimes reported to have the face of a cat. Local folklore holds that the Tatzelwurm is able to defend itself by expelling poisonous fumes that are capable of killing a human.


One claimed photograph of the Tatzelwurm exists. It was taken in 1934 by a Swiss photographer named Balkin who took a photo of what he thought was a very peculiar log. When the camera flashed, the “log” darted away. (from Wikipedia)

The Tatzelwurm is known to attack and consume people, cows, pigs and horses.


Tatzelwurm images from:
(2 & 3)

Lindworm & Tatzelwurm Links…

Lindworm ~ Wikipedia

Tatzelwurm ~ Wikipedia

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