As with previous years, VPIS tends to see a spike in calls concerning adders in the spring and, as the weather has been heating up recently, we have definitely seen an increase in adder bite cases being reported to us.
The European adder, Vipera berus berus, is the only venomous snake native to the UK. It is a true viper, some 50-60 cm in length at maturity, which varies in colour from pale grey to dark brown in the male and from olive green/yellowish-brown to reddish-brown in the female. Whilst adders generally only bite when provoked, we see a spike in cases in the spring and summer months as the snakes come out of hibernation and their breeding season commences. Adder envenomation causes significant morbidity but has a relatively low mortality. That being said, the progress of envenomation is very variable and unpredictable, and treatment is almost always necessary.
VPIS are here 24/7 to aid you in obtaining antivenom, if required. We can do so via our ToxBox and Elixir schemes. Information on how antivenom can be obtained in an emergency is available on our website.
Additionally, leaflets for owners on adder bites in dogs are available from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and from Animal PoisonLine.