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Let's give adders a better deal

PUBLISHED: 08:40 29 June 2018

Adders need treating with respect, says Nick Conrad.

Adders need treating with respect, says Nick Conrad.

Archant © 2009

Adders have more to fear from us than we do from them, says Nick Conrad

Ever since Genesis, snakes have had a bad reputation. Even before that was written, the ancient Egyptians had snakebite remedies, and Cleopatra, so the story goes, committed suicide by serpent. Fast forward to the modern day and our fanged friends are causing a stir in our county.

I know that 90% of you hate them but I’m standing up for these special reptiles. We’re so lucky to have these beautiful creatures in Norfolk, therefore I’m delighted that adder numbers appear to be on the up!

Snakes are loathed and I absolutely understand why. That said their unfair reputation engenders a curious respect from me. Their beguiling colouring, impossible contortions and potent venom (in some species, anyway) mean these creatures have a rather small fan club, despite their incredible beauty.

You might not be delighted to read that dog walkers and parents especially have been warned to keep a look out in North Norfolk. Naturalists are saying a higher-than-normal number of Britain’s only venomous snake have been spotted in North Norfolk. A handful of pictures have popped up on my Facebook timeline of these super creatures basking on our country paths. I wonder if those who’ve taken the pictures realise how lucky they are to have witnessed this spectacular sight.

Adders are more fearful (rightfully) of their human counterparts. Thundering feet are usually their cue to slither away. For years I’ve been desperate to see another one, my only encounter occurred years ago in Brancaster Staithe. On a beautiful summer’s day I meandered along the path towards the beach when suddenly a little snake, which had been blissfully basking, retreated towards the undergrowth. In that short moment, I was dazzled by the beauty of this curious creature.

According to a recent report in the EDP a handful of Sheringham dog walkers have reported seeing adders, more than any time previously. They have almost become a common sight in Pretty Corner Woods, just outside the town. Those who wish to see them should refrain from embarking on a snake hunt. These creatures can pack a nasty bite and should never be handled. If you’re lucky enough to see one, please respect its territory and leave it well alone. Always view snakes from a safe distance and try not to alarm or distress the creature. Make sure inquisitive dogs are kept on a lead.

And be careful to identify the right snake! My father once when noticing what he believed to be a grass snake was given a little shock. On a county path this small harmless creature had decided to slither across his sandal. My father was quite happy to let the little serpent caress the top of his foot until he recognised the ominous colouring of the snake’s scales. Dad’s heart must have skipped a beat when he realised his mistake.

Although an adder’s venom is not considered life-threatening to a healthy adult, the bite is very painful and requires urgent medical attention. It’s this bite which strikes fear into the heart of the populous, however adders have more to fear from us that we do them.

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