Sunday, 7 August 2011

More on the Adder.


Although I've actually never been on the hunt for Adders I've been lucky over the years to have found them on occasions. I'm not about to advertise where on Birds2blog as I've decided to adhere to a request made to me some time ago not to do so. That said, I do strongly object - with rare exclusions like this one - to people taking on the role of dictator having any part in birding. There are of course always those who necessitate the need to dictate in order to attempt to control their objectionable attitude in being non-conformists causing unnecessary disturbance - and often much worse - to wildlife.

The Adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain though it has the most highly developed injecting mechanism of all snakes, but it is not an aggressive creature if treated with respect. They are relatively common in areas of rough open countryside and are best seen in early spring when they emerge from hibernation. By mid April - if you're lucky - you might see the males wrestling for supremacy for the females whilst writhing around each other at times covering the ground at great speed in combat....

 ARKive video - Adder males determining dominance

Births take place around this time of the year in August and early September, but unlike most reptiles the Adder doesn't lay eggs but gives birth to young, quite small but perfect miniatures of the adult. Young Adders tend to hibernate in the area where they were born, their survival throughout the winter following their birth is dependant on the severity of the weather.

Adders usually eat small rodents but can go for long periods without feeding, in fact an adult can survive on eating the equivalent of only nine voles in a year. If the opportunity arises they will also take young from the nests of ground nesting birds. They strike swiftly, injecting a lethal dose of venom, then wait until the prey is dead before eating the victim whole as all snakes do. The Adder itself has its own predators including birds of prey like the Buzzard, the young Adder is also at risk with adult snakes. It is protected by law against being killed or injured by human activity, but as we all know these protection laws are pretty flimsy when it comes to protection from those less inclined than you and I to respect the countryside and its wildlife around us.

There's a cautionary tale about the Adder towards the end of a posting which I'd suggest is a good idea to heed....Look for the pic of the Adder and start to read just above it in Butterflies and A+E


Warren Baker said...

Nothing wrong with Adders pete, as you say, if treated with respect they are completely harmless. They often off before before they are even seen - just as well.

David Cookson said...

Pete,having read Zacs unfortunate incident with the Adder by way of your link, I can only conclude that he was extremely unlucky to come into contact with an Adder the way he did.
When in Nortumberland I actively seek them out, and when I do find one my main concern is not to frighten them off as I want to photograph them. I was only 18 inches away from the one pictured and it passed harmlessly by all to quickly.
I took some shots last year of a youngster, it was only six inches long, but on the photo you can't distinguish it from an adult, like you say exactly the same in miniature.
Pete I can confirm that Adders if discovered by the "locals" are disposed of in no uncertain terms, death by a spade is the usual method.

Pete Woodruff said...

I reckon Zac was indeed very unfortunate to have seemingly 'put his hand in it' quite innocently.

Thanks for comments David which end rather sadly with your confirmation regarding the actions of the 'Hillbilly's' upon finding the Adder.