I get it. I really do. Adders are not everyone’s cup of tea. My own wife is a little leery of snakes, and I don’t blame her. They don’t walk. They slither, in a silent, unnerving way.
Snakes could do with a good PR agency. They certainly get bad press. Think of Kaa in the Jungle Book. And who was really to blame in the Garden of Eden? They are synonymous with Evil and nasty things that bite.
Adders in particular are unloved. Wrongly billed as Britain’s only venomous snake, they are feared even by people who have never seen one. Which may well be most people before long, as recent research shows that Adders, always good at vanishing into the undergrowth, are now disappearing from the country.
A recent report by Emma Gardner of the University of Reading, has revealed a catastrophic decline in Adder numbers. So what? I hear you ask? Well love or loathe them, Adders are a good indicator species. Where they thrive, wildlife in general is usually doing well. Where they aren’t, the area’s wildlife is usually impoverished. Their loss should be a concern to anyone who loves wildlife, scaly or otherwise.
One interesting fact revealed by the study is that, contrary to what you’d expect from a warmth-loving animal, Adders emerge from hibernation earlier in the North than the South. It seems that even Northern Adders are tougher than their soft Southern counterparts.
More research is needed, but the report’s conclusion is that the biggest threat to Adders is unthinking human disturbance. Adders are, it seems, are just as easily upset by people as people are by Adders. So perhaps it’s time that we each gave the other a bit of space, and left these magnificent animals alone.
You can read the full text of Emma’s study, for free, by following the links from here: