Adder

Reptiles

Description

The Adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain. Although the Adder has the most highly developed venom injecting mechanism of all snakes, they are not aggressive animals, and will only use their venom as a last means of defence (usually if caught or trodden on). There have been no deaths, within the UK, from an adder bite for over 20 years. With proper treatment, the worst effects are nausea and drowsiness, followed by severe swelling and bruising in the area of the bite. Most people who are bitten were handling the snake. Please treat adders with respect and leave them alone.

Adders are often found in areas of rough, open countryside and are often associated with woodland edge habitats. They are less inclined to disappear into the surrounding undergrowth when disturbed and so are frequently seen. The best time to see them is in early spring when they emerge from their hibernacula. By mid April, the males have shed their dull winter skins and are ready to mate. There is a lot of frenzied activity on warm days, with males looking for females and occasionally wrestling with other males for supremacy. The 'dance of the adders' was thought to be a mating display, but it is a larger male attempting to drive off a smaller one. The snakes writhe around each other in an impressive way, often covering the ground at great speed.

The majority of adders are distinctively marked with a dark zigzag running down the length of the spine and an inverted 'V' shape on the neck. Males are usually white or pale grey with a black zigzag, whilst females are a pale brown colour, with a darker brown zigzag.  Some adders are entirely black and can be mistaken for some other species.

Adders can sometimes be seen at Wem Moss Nature Reserve.


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