Adders bites: fact and fiction

Discover the truth about adder bites. 

Adder, UK

FICTION! Adder bites are a big danger in the countryside.

Contrary to media hype, adder bites are incredibly rare – no one in the UK has died from one for 40 years, and there were just 14 UK fatalities in 1876–1975.

FACT! If you are unlucky enough to be bitten, seek medical help.

Though seldom fatal, adder bites can have nasty effects, including swelling, drowsiness, vomiting and diarrhoea, so you should always see a doctor straightaway.

FICTION! Adders are aggressive.

These are very timid snakes that bite only in self-defence during attempted capture or handling or if actually stepped on. A Scottish National Heritage survey found that over 50 per cent of adder bites were to the hand, compared with 38 per cent to the feet.

FACT! Respect these snakes, and they will respect you.

Always keep dogs on the lead at known or suspected adder locations, and if you’re a photographer never try to edge too close.

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