Are adder bites dangerous? Useful information: A KENT WILDLIFE TRUST INFORMATION SHEET For most people an adder bite will cause only Reptiles in your garden: your questions mild discomfort and swelling but any bite Answered Leaflet by Natural England should be regarded as potentially serious and immediate medical advice should be sought. Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group (KRAG) Do not try to catch the snake for identification. www.kentarg.org/reptiles/ SNAKES To put adder bites in perspective only around firstname.lastname@example.org 12 people are known to have died from adder email@example.com bites in the last 100 years whereas several people die from insect stings each year. Britain has three native species of snake - the grass snake, Dealing with injured snakes. adder and the very rare smooth snake. Smooth snakes are only In most cases it is best to leave the snake alone. Never attempt to capture an adder found on small numbers of heathland sites in Surrey, Dorset contact the Kent Reptile and Amphibian and Hampshire. Group. Snakes have amazing powers of recovery from even the most horrific injuries. Here we look at the adder and grass snake, both found in Kent. Snakes and the law. Both the grass snake and adder are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act as amended. Under this act it is illegal to kill, injure or sell them. Head Office: Tyland Barn, Sandling, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 3BD Tel: 01622 662012 Fax: 01622 671390 www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Registered Charity No.239992 A company limited by guarantee No. 633098 VAT Reg No. 974 8423 78 Your Living Landscape. Your Living Seas. Version 11 2010 Habits for Snakes Feeding Snakes and their young. Grass snakes often live near water, where Grass snakes feed mainly on frogs and Adders bear their young live, as the young they swim and feed. They also live in damp toads, but also eat fish, newts and small snakes develop from the eggs within the woodlands and meadows. For overwintering rodents. They will occasionally take nestling mother’s body. She gives birth between July they like high, dry banks covered with birds. They swallow their prey head first and and October. The young are enclosed in a brambles and rabbit burrows, and also usually alive! membrane from which they emerge shortly garden rockeries. Kent is a stronghold for the Adders feed on voles, mice, lizards, nestling after birth. grass snake. birds, eggs, frogs and toads, and insect Grass snakes lay eggs, mainly from late Adders are found in a variety of habitats but larvae. The adder injects its prey with venom June to August. The eggs are laid where in Kent adders are associated with chalk and then follows it, waiting for it to die. conditions are humid, including manure and downland. They are in decline in Kent. They compost heaps, piles of straw or logs, walls Grass snake often return to the same places to overwinter and foundations of buildings. with a yellowish white band in groups. A grass snake is eating followed by a black band forming a my goldfish what can I do? collar behind the head How to tell the difference between a grass snake and an adder? The snake could be removed to another suitable habitat, but we would not encourage Adders are rarely more than 65cm in length. this. Nothing will deter a grass snake from The usually have a greyish/brown colouration visiting a pond. Any netting is likely to trap with a continuous black zigzag on their back the snake, so why not enjoy the honour of slow worm and roundish blotches on each side. being visited by such a lovely animal. For a The zigzag is usually preceded with a V- thriving wildlife pond goldfish are best left shape mark on the back of the head, though out anyway as they eat everything! Slow worms. this mark may be X- or H-shaped. No, slow worms are not snakes but legless Snakes and hibernation. lizards, and may be up to 45cm in length. Grass snakes are often longer than adders Snakes hibernate any time from the end of They look like a snakes but have eyelids and adults reach between 80cm and 120cm. September onwards, depending on the a sheddable tail. Slow worms are semi- Their background colour is olive-green, grey weather. They may hibernate underground nocturnal and feed on slugs, snails and or brownish with a distinctive, usually using, for example, the holes made by insects. They have a polished appearance whitish-yellow and black, collar. This collar is mammals or tree roots. They may also with shades of coppery gold and vivid dark occasionally absent in larger individuals. hibernate in manure heaps, rock piles and brown sides when young. They are far more Black vertical bars and spots run along each hedgerows. They may hibernate singly or in common than adders or grass snakes, and Adder side. groups. Kent is a stronghold for them. showing the head markings before In the grass snake the eye has a round pupil the diamond pattern which gives in the adder it is vertical. Poisonous British snakes. rise to the zigzag down the back Of the three British snakes, only the adder is venomous. An adder will not bite unless provoked. Never disturb or try to pick up an adder. A grass snake may bite if seriously provoked, but the bite is not harmful. It is more likely to spray an evil-smelling liquid from its rear end!