Warning after Labrador dog is bitten by adder on Winterton dunes

Mary Baker and her dog Ross. 
Ross, a four year old labrador, was bitten by an adder while walking on Winterton dunes. Mary Baker and her dog Ross. Ross, a four year old labrador, was bitten by an adder while walking on Winterton dunes.

Friday, March 21, 2014
8:45 AM

Dog owners are urged to be wary after a much-loved Labrador was bitten by an adder on Winterton dunes.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Mary Baker and her dog Ross.  Ross, a four year old labrador, was bitten by an adder while walking on Winterton dunes.Mary Baker and her dog Ross. Ross, a four year old labrador, was bitten by an adder while walking on Winterton dunes.

As warmer weather brings Britain’s only venomous snake out of hibernation, dogs being walked in adder territory are at risk.

Three-year-old Ross, who lives with owners Mary and Eric Baker in Ormesby, fell ill after a walk between Horsey and Winterton last Monday lunchtime. Within hours of getting home, Ross’s side and neck had swollen up, he was slobbering and had no energy.

Broadland House Veterinary Surgery in Stalham couldn’t find any puncture marks at first so Ross was given antibiotics, antihistamine and steroids instead of anti-venom. A few days later, a single bite mark was found inside his mouth - suggesting he had been bitten but the snake had not released a full dose of poison.

“It sounds odd but I knew something was wrong because he just looked so sad,” said Mary, who has had Ross since he was a puppy.

“The chief vet who found the puncture mark in his mouth said it was early for adders and this was definitely the first they’d seen this year.”

Ross is making a fast recovery but Mary, who believes he survived because he is a relatively young and healthy dog, said they will avoid walking on the dunes this summer.

Adders will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on. While their venom poses little danger to a healthy adult, their bite is painful and requires medical attention.

Local naturalist Tony Brown said dogs and adders will inevitably meet from time to time.

Britain’s only venomous snake

Adders (Vipera berus berus) are the only venomous snake native to Britain.

They are easily identifiable by the distinctive zig-zag pattern running the length of the body.

They grow between 50-80cm long and feed on a diet of small rodents and lizards.

They prefer to live in woodland or shrubland and will bask in the open but never stray too far from cover.

The best time to see them is in early spring when they emerge from their hibernation dens. By mid April, the males have shed their dull winter skin and are ready to mate.

During the autumn, adult snakes follow scent trails to find their way back to the hibernation site.

“Once they start to emerge from hibernation adders need to bask in the sun to warm they body temperature before they can go off and hunt,” said Tony.

“The problem in Winterton is that the adders choose secluded spots close to cover, which is exactly where dogs like to go exploring and the adders, if they don’t have the energy to get away, will do the first thing they can to defend themselves.

“Even in the summer months adders still need to bask in the sun before they get on with their daily business. But once they’ve warmed up they’ll move fast.

“It’s very unlikely they would bite a human but dogs are that much closer to the ground. They are more at risk, especially in places like Winterton and Horsey and Belton Common.”

Adders (Vipera berus berus) are easily identifiable by their distinctive zig-zag pattern running the length of the body.

They grow between 50-80cm long and feed on a diet of small rodents and lizards and prefer to live in woodland or shrubland, never straying too far from cover.

1 comment

  • I have been visiting Syderstone Common for the past week or so hoping to get a sighting of an adder. The common is a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve and a site of special scientific interest and has signs at the car parking spaces saying 'Please keep your dogs on a lead or under tight control from 1st March to 31st July' - this is mainly to protect ground nesting birds I believe. On each occasion I have visited there have been some irresponsible dog owners allowing their dogs to run wild and around almost every bend in the various tracks across the common I saw piles of dog excrement making a beautiful location into a dog toilet. Whilst I feel sorry for the dog concerned, which was only behaving naturally, I feel that it's about time some dog owners took more responsibility for their pets and the offensive mess they create.

    Report this comment

    Thoreauwasright

    Friday, March 21, 2014

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 11°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT