Adder Awareness For Dogs
Adder (Vipera berus)
- Adders are the only venomous snake native to the UK.
- They can be grey or melanistic (black) in colour with a black zigzag.
- They are a stocky, short snake reaching on average between 50cm to 80cm.
- There is a very low risk that they will bite people because they feel footstep vibrations, so will often run or flee rather than face the disturbance.
Habitat: Woodland or grassland, found throughout Cumbria.
Is my dog at risk from an adder bite?
Although millions of people walk their dogs in adder habitat every year. There are only around 100 adder bites to dogs recorded per year. The majority of bites occur when dogs are off-lead, and although snake bites can be fatal for dogs, in reality they rarely are.
Adders hibernate from October to the end of March. So the only at risk times are from March to October.
Adders are ectothermic, meaning they need to bask in the sun to get energy for their body to work. Whilst basking they are vulnerable, slow, sluggish and defensive. For Adders, biting is a defensive behaviour, it only happens when the adder is feeling threatened. They are in fact quite shy creatures and aren't seeking to bite people or dogs.
The vast majority of bites occur when an off-lead dog runs up to the adder to investigate it. Bites also occur when people try to pick them up.
To avoid a bite, keep your dog on a lead when you are walking in known adder habitat.
What to do if your dog gets bitten?
- Remain calm
- If you are able, pick your dog up and carry them to a car
- Get to your vets ASAP.
- Never try to suck out any venom, this is a common myth and can be dangerous.