A snake in the grass

Friday 23 July 2010, 17:02

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron

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Walkers on Gower are being warned to watch their step after a man was bitten on the ankle by an adder at a caravan park in Port Eynon recently.

Adders (Vipera berus) are the UK's only venomous snake and common through the UK. Like most snakes they are shy creatures which will do their best to avoid contact with humans.

They will only bite as a last resort or if you accidentally step on one, so it's worth wearing walking boots and thick socks when walking in overgrown areas.

Adders basking in the sun at Parc Slip. Image by 'Former ex-tog'

Their venom is fairly strong but we're not talking taipan or king brown here (no-one has died from an adder bite since the 1970s) but if bitten, you will require hospital treatment in the form of antivenom.

Their venom is designed to stun small prey such as lizards, small mammals and amphibians.

Bites will initially cause a sharp pain followed by drowsiness, nausea, tenderness, swelling of joints and bruising around the affected area although symptoms can be more severe in certain cases.

If bitten, remain calm and don't move around. Take a paracetamol to relieve the pain and get to hospital as soon as possible.

Adders will also bite cats and dogs so always keep your dog on a lead when walking in potential adder hot spots.

Unfortunately, adders like us, tend to be more active on warm, sunny days when we all decide to go walking.

They can often be found basking in the open around the edges of woodland, coastal footpaths and at the back of beaches and dunes.

Adders are a protected species and should be treated with respect. Do not handle or disturb them and they'll do you no harm.

Watch what happened when Iolo Williams went looking for adders.

Find out more about these snakes on the BBC Wildlife Finder.


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