Reptiles, such as adders, grass snakes, common lizards and slow worms, rely on the heat from the sun to warm their bodies in order to become active, but if it becomes too hot will overheat and seek shelter from the midday sun.
Therefore, these creatures are only active during the warmer months, typically from March to October, but are easiest to spot when the weather is not above about 18 degrees C [ so June and July are often too hot once the sun is fully up]. During suitable times, they can sometimes be seen basking in the sun on south-facing banks, or rocks, or underneath hotspots, such as discarded corrugated iron sheets. They hibernate throughout the colder, winter months, during which time they seek refuge underground or, for example, in log or rubble piles, so called “hibernaculum”.
NWS can undertake reptile surveys on sites, that are proposed to be developed. Where they are discovered on a site, we can advise clients on any mitigation required, for example reptile translocations or habitat creation.
As the air warms and the sun shines brighter every day, the adders have been moving about the county seeking their familiar breeding grounds. Waking out of a winter-long hibernation, these groggy snakes have a sinister reputation for biting dogs and humans alike, but are they as dangerous as you might believe?
Earlier this month, Wally Webb of BBC Radio Norfolk came to Cawston Heath to speak with one of our surveyors, Daniel Cadwallader, about working with adders and the dangers that entails. It was a glorious morning, with full sun shining down and a cool breeze keeping the air temperature low; perfect survey conditions for reptiles. Sadly, no adders could be found to hiss for the listeners at home.
There are more bites at this time of year in the UK than at any other, and this is in part down to the lifecycle of the adder. During the spring, adders are newly awakened from their hibernation and have not yet built up the energy needed to flee an inquisitive human or dog. Not an aggressive species, an adder will always attempt to escape from a threat rather than face it head on. However, if sufficiently provoked, they do have a rather nasty bite.
The vast majority of bites occur when people are antagonising adders, or attempting to pick them up, and the reptiles must resort to their ultimate line of defense. If, however, you stay quiet and keep your distance you can appreciate the bold colours and striking patterns of the UK’s only venomous reptile.
Please follow this link for the most up-to-date advice on snake bites from the NHS :