Adder

Vipera berus

About

The Adder is a relatively small, stocky snake which prefers woodland, heathland and moorland. It hunts lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds such as Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Adders hibernate from October, emerging in the first warm days of March, which is the easiest time of year to find them basking on a log or under a warm rock.

How to identify

Adders are grey or reddish brown, with a darker and very distinct zig-zag pattern down their backs. Black forms are sometimes spotted. Males are silver-grey and females are brown.

Where to find it

Widespread across the country, except for Scottish Islands, the Isles of Scilly, the Channel Islands, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Habitats

When to find it

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Adders were once quite common across heaths, grasslands and woods, but have suffered serious declines mainly due to the loss and fragmentation of their habitat as well as persecution. Careful habitat management carried out by The Wildlife Trusts on local nature reserves where this creature lives helps it to survive; opening up areas for it to sunbathe and providing basking sites constructed from logs are just some of the ways we're helping Adders. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Local information

Adders were once widespread but changes in agriculture and forestry reduced suitable habitat and the heathlands which they are often associated with have declined dramatically. They have also been persecuted and road casualties cause further loss. In Worcestershire the species is declining although great efforts have been undertaken to monitor their populations and restore habitat.

Adders are now primarily confined to heathland, meadow and woodland in the west and northwest of the county, especially in the Wyre Forest, Habberley Valley, Kingsford Forest Park and the Malvern Hills. Where possible try to avoid repeat disturbance. To help protect the adder we do not disclose the locations of where they can be viewed.

Adders are not aggressive but they are our only snake with a venomous bite. Whilst there are only around 10 recorded cases of death from adder bite in the last 100 years, a bite is painful and usually results in hospitalisation. Therefore, adders should be treated with the utmost respect. Many more people have been killed by lightning, golf balls and wasp stings than by adder bite!

If you do encounter an adder do report it as they are so rare.
 

Species information

Common name
Adder
Latin name
Vipera berus
Category
Reptiles
Statistics
Length: 65cm Weight: 50-180g Average Lifespan: 8-10 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.