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Viperus berus

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.

© Paul Hobson

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.

Where to find

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

What People can do

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.

Did you know?

The Adder is Britain’s only venomous snake, but its poison is generally of little danger to humans: an Adder bite can be very painful and cause a nasty inflammation, but despite stories is really only dangerous to the very young, ill or old. Adders are secretive animals and prefer to slither off into the undergrowth than confront and bite humans and domestic animals; most attacks happen when they are trodden on or picked up. Instead, they use their venom to immobilise and kill their prey of small mammals, nestlings and lizards.

Key Facts

  • Length: 65cm
  • Weight: 50-180g
  • Average Lifespan: 8-10 years


Donate to help support Adders and other wildlife.

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