Norfolk Fishing Network 2004 - 2024 - Adders Information


A stocky snake up to 70 cm long.

Males are grey with black zig-zag stripe.

Females are light brown with dark brown zig zag stripe.

There is a "V" or "X" shaped marking on head and a row of dark spots on each side.

Widely distributed throughout mainland Britain.

In specific habitats such as heathland, moorland, meadows and open woodland. On road and rail embankments and very rarely in gardens.

Adder Snake

A snake will sometimes bite in self-defence if disturbed or provoked.

Some snakes are venomous and can inject venom (toxin) as they bite. A bite from a venomous snake is a medical emergency as they can be deadly if not treated quickly.

In the UK, adders are the only venomous snakes found in the wild.

If an adder injects venom when it bites, it can cause serious symptoms including:

redness and swelling in the area of the bite nausea (feeling sick) vomiting dizziness

Remain calm and don't panic; snake bites, particularly those that occur in the UK, are not often serious and rarely deadly

Try to remember the shape, size and colour of the snake keep the part of your body that has been bitten as still as possible to prevent the venom spreading around your body

Remove jewellery and watches from the bitten limb because they could cut into your skin if the limb swells

Do not attempt to remove any clothing, such as trousers

Seek immediate medical assistance by dialling 999 to request an ambulance or visit your nearest accident and emergency (A and E) department.

You should give healthcare professionals a description of the snake to help identify it.

You may be admitted to hospital so the bite can be assessed and your condition closely monitored.

In most cases of adder bites, the only treatment required is observation in hospital. As a precaution, you may be asked to stay in hospital for 24 hours to be monitored.

In most cases, children bitten by an adder will make a full recovery in about 1-3 weeks. Adults usually require more than three weeks to recover fully, and a quarter of adults will take between 1-9 months.

When a snake bites, it injects venom to immobilise its prey. As humans are too large for a snake to eat, most snakes bite in self defence.

Snake bites often occur when a person accidentally steps on a snake while out walking. However, sometimes people are bitten when they deliberately provoke a snake by striking it or trying to pick it up.

Read more about the causes of snake bites.

Preventing snake bites

Follow the advice listed below if you are in an area where venomous snakes are found. Look out for warning notices on heaths and commons

Wear boots and long trousers

Never pick up a snake, even if you think it is harmless or appears dead

Never put your hand in a hole or crevice for example, between rocks. If you need to retrieve something, stand well back and use a stick to reach it

If you find yourself very close to a snake, stand completely still. Most snakes only strike at moving targets. If you remain calm and still, the snake will escape without harming you

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