> Adders are one of the six British species of reptile.
> We are lucky enough to have all six right here in Dorset.
> Adders are cold blooded so need the warmth of the sun to give them energy, which is why you can sometimes find them basking.
> Although their bite is poisonous, they are shy, sensitive and non-aggressive. They will not set out to hurt you and will actually try to avoid people.
> If they feel the vibration of your approach or sense a shadow, they will scuttle away, but they might not feel an approaching dog, which is lighter on its feet.
> They hibernate in winter.
> This is a threatened species and protected by law.
Dorset Wildlife Trust warden Nigel Brooks says: "It is unusual to see an adder and extremely unusual to be bitten by one. You are very lucky if you come across one basking in the spring, curled up in the sunshine. Give them room and they won't give you any trouble".
Advice for Walkers
Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Urban Heaths Partnership give the following advice for people out walking from March to September, especially on heathland.
- Keep to the paths and wear sensible shoes (not flip-flops or sandals - preferably boots with ankle protection).
- If you do get bitten, go straight to hospital.
- Carry a mobile phone to call for help.
- Keep dogs on the paths and under close control (preferably on a lead) to prevent them from disturbing and surprising wildlife. This could save you a vet bill!
How do you know it's an adder?
- Adders have a distinctive zig-zag pattern down the middle of the back and tail.
- They come in lots of colours - browns for females, greys for males and occasionally black, but always with the zig-zag.
If you spot an adder, please report it to the Dorset Environmental Records Centre on 01305 225081, giving date and exact location, preferably a grid reference or postcode.
You can help with wardening our heaths or doing reptile surveys - contact Dorset Wildlife Trust's urban team on 01202 692033.