Adder champion, Sylvia Sheldon: “I’ve become extraordinarily fond of adders because I know them as individuals, having learned to distinguish one from another by the zigzag patterns on their backs.” Sylvia has studied her local adders for 35 years
With its highly distinctive, viscerally thrilling pattern of diamonds on its back, the adder is one of Britain’s most exotic native species.
It is, after all, our only venomous snake – and venomous creatures are normally associated with the tropics. Paradoxically, though, it’s also remarkable for being the world’s only snake found within the Arctic Circle.
Sadly, as our champion Sylvia Sheldon says, “Adders need friends.” They’re increasingly rare in the north and Midlands due to agricultural intensification and development, though good numbers survive in areas such as the south-west and Wales.
Adders like rough grasslands, heaths and moorland, but anywhere with sunny spots for basking, dense cover for shelter and plenty of prey – small mammals, on the whole – will do.
Best places to see an adder
- Carsegowan Moss, Dumfries and Galloway
- Humberhead Peatlands, South Yorkshire
- Parc Slip, Glamorgan
- Wyre Forest, Worcestershire