This week for fun fact friday we’re focusing on the UK’s only venomous snake, the Adder!
Adders (Vipera berus) are relatively docile creatures and only use their venom if they are defending themselves. On average, 100 people are bitten by adders each year, but very rarely are bites fatal. The last known UK adder bite fatality was recorded in 1975.
They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and have been designated as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.
They hunt lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds, such as skylark and meadow pipit. In spring, male adders perform a ‘dance’ during which they duel to fend off competition to mate. Females incubate the eggs internally, ‘giving birth’ to three to twenty live young. Adders hibernate from October, emerging in the first warm days of March, which is the easiest time of year to find them basking on a log or under a warm rock.
The adder is a greyish snake, with a dark and very distinct zig-zag pattern down its back, and red eyes. The zig-zag pattern makes it a rather easy snake to identify out of UK’s remaining snakes (grass snake, smooth snake and barred grass snake).
Males tend to be more silvery-grey in colour, while females are more light or reddish-brown. Black (melanistic) forms are sometimes spotted.