Chinese Year of the Snake, English adders

This video is called Happy Chinese New Year of the Snake 2013.

This video about adders says about itself:

Vipera berus (huggorm) is the only venomous snake in Norway! I have made a video about this facinating creature. Too many people are killing them as soon as they see one. Maybe I can help change some minds?? Filmed in Ølen and Etne, Norway!

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The legless neighbours who mean no trouble

Thursday 07 February 2013

I always try to get up to the north Norfolk coast in winter. If you are lucky enough to get one of those crisp bright winter days as we did a week or so ago then there is no finer place on earth to blow away the winter cobwebs.

You will share the coast with thousands of winter birds and a few real surprise visitors and rarities.

My biggest, however, wasn’t a bird. It was snakes – more than I have ever seen at this time of year.

Adders are often spotted surprisingly early in the year. They are often seen in January or February on sunny days when the winter sun warms patches on the sandy paths and the adders emerge from their winter hibernation to bask.

My wife Ann pointed out 2013 is the Chinese year of the snake and suggested that was why there were so many this winter.

The adder is our commonest snake and sadly our most misunderstood – it is the only native venomous snake in Britain.

Adult males are rarely over two feet long, females might be a few inches longer but reports of adder sightings will often claim they are twice this long. Five and six foot claims are not unknown.

Most adders are distinctively marked with a dark zigzag running down the length of the spine and an inverted “V” shape on the neck.

Males are generally white or pale grey with a black zigzag. Females are a pale brown colour, with a darker brown zigzag.

A few are entirely black and are sometimes mistaken for exotic escaped snakes.

Adders are not aggressive animals. They will only bite as a last means of defence, usually if caught, cornered or trodden on.

No-one has died from adder bite in Britain for over 20 years. Only 14 deaths in the last century – 50 times more people die from bee and wasp stings.

With proper treatment, the worst effects of an adder bite are nausea and drowsiness followed by nasty swelling and bruising in the area of the bite.

Most people who are bitten were picking up the snake. Treat adders with respect, leave them alone, admire them from a distance and they will do you no harm.

The best time to see them is in early spring as they emerge from their hibernation dens.

Come April, the males will have shed their dull winter skin and are keen to mate – they rush about looking for females and occasionally wrestling with rival males.

The snakes writhe around each other in an impressive way, often covering the ground at great speed.

This behaviour was called the “dance of the adders” and was reckoned to be a mating ritual between a male and a female. We know better now.

Following mating, females seek out a suitable place to give birth, often travelling half a mile or more. Live births take place in late August to early September.

Adders do not lay eggs – young snakes are born live, a few inches long, perfectly formed miniature snakes.

During the autumn, adult snakes follow scent trails back to the hibernation site. Knots of snakes gather in sites they have used for years.

Adders usually eat small rodents – such as voles – lizards, frogs, newts, and occasionally young birds.

A full size adult will eat very little, perhaps no more than a dozen voles in a year.

Like all snakes, adders eat their prey whole. Flexible jaw bones and ribs mean they are able to swallow large prey whole.

Young adders are threatened by a variety of predators, including birds of prey – some are eaten by adult snakes. Others may be killed and eaten by rats or killed by cold while in hibernation.

They are protected by law against being killed, injured or disturbed – still every year many are killed by unthinking people.

Please don’t be one of them. Adders are a handsome addition to our countryside, especially in the Year of the Snake.

10 thoughts on “Chinese Year of the Snake, English adders

  1. Pingback: Chinese New Year marks the start of the Chinese Year of the Snake « Sunset Daily

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