What a ssssight! Adder caught swimming at Hickling Broad

Swimming adder at Hickling Broad PHOTO: Don Cuddon

Swimming adder at Hickling Broad PHOTO: Don Cuddon - Credit: Don Cuddon

An incredibly rare sighting of an adder swimming in the Norfolk Broads has been captured on camera.

Don Cuddon, a keen wildlife photographer from Ipswich, snapped the snake last week at Hickling Broad, near Potter Heigham – a stretch of water cared for by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

The charity's head of nature reserves, Kevin Hart, said: 'It is common to see grass snakes swimming in the dykes and the Broads, but very unusual to see an adder swimming. In 20 years I've never see that, it's a wonderful sight. Perhaps this snake has adapted to their life on the Broads?'

The adder is one of only three snakes native to Britain and Mr Hart believes that Hickling Broad offers them the perfect conditions.

He said: 'The peat and sand, the open rough ground that we have here, it is everything the adder loves. I would say we have a healthy population. We have quite a lot adders in Norfolk, you will often find them at the edges of woodland.'

Adders are not aggressive animals and only strike if provoked, so dog walkers and the public have nothing to fear according to Mr Hart.

He said: 'They feel the vibrations of people walking nearby and will be more frightened of you.'

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At 2.3 sq miles Hickling Broad is one of the largest open expanses of water in East Anglia and has long been a haven for wildlife.

Created by medieval peat-diggers, it is now considered a wetland of international importance.

It is home to a number of endangered species such as the swallowtail butterfly, only found on the Norfolk Broads, as well as the marsh harrier.

The broad is also one of very few places where holly-leaved naiad grows, an extremely rare aquatic plant.

Mr Hart said: 'Hickling Broad is a very special corner of the country. We have a mosaic of habitats which we manage very carefully. Because it is a wetland, we are protected from development and it allows some very rare animals and plant life to thrive.'

The photograph captured a wonderful moment, according to Mr Hart - but he does recall seeing one other unusual swimmer in the broad.

'I saw a grey squirrel take a dip once,' he said. 'He held his tail in the air to keep it dry.'

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