Some four hundred sand lizards are to be released at five sites in Surrey, Dorset and mid-Wales. from where they had previously disappeared. The sand lizard was once common across heathland in Southern Britain, but the gradual destruction of its habitats has led to its extinction in many places. The young lizards were bred in captivity in zoos and specially modified back gardens. BBC (with video)
Smooth snakes (Coronella austriaca) are to be released back in Devon, after an absence of 50 years. Continue reading Rare smooth snake coming back to Devon
Probably the best opportunity to see the elusive adder (Vipera berus) is in March, when the males emerge from hibernation and are found basking in groups. Then in April, resplendent after its spring skin-shedding, the adder will engage with rival males in bouts of Continue reading Dance of the Adders
The Herpetological Conservation Trust has this excellent page on the etymology and folklore of adders, including:
“Old natural history books often tell how female Adders swallow their young to protect them from danger. This myth is even perpetuated by some countrymen who have spent their lives amongst Adders. This story suggests a degree of parental care which is sadly lacking in Adders. If she did attempt to swallow her own young the strong stomach acids would digest them. In all probability, this story originated when a gravid female Adder was killed with well developed young inside her.” Read
Also I’ve added some statistics on adder bites here. Read
Volcanic eruptions, lightning strikes, lizard bites and hornet stings caused some of the more unusual injuries listed by the Department of Health (DoH).
From the Guardian here :
Accidents cost the NHS about £1bn a year. The most common cause of injury was falling, which led to 119,203 admissions to casualty.
Thousands suffered attacks from a wide variety of animals. These included 451 people stung by hornets, 46 bitten by venomous snakes and lizards, 24 bitten by rats, 15 injured in contact with a marine mammal, two people bitten by centipedes and one attacked by an alligator. But dogs accounted for most injuries with 3,508 people suffering bites.
Hundreds more fell victims to natural hazards, with 54 people struck by lightning, 37 victims of “volcanic eruption” (sic), 25 injured in “cataclysmic storms”, 12 suffered from avalanches and seven were victims of earthquakes. A further 107 were exposed to “unspecified forces of nature”.
Adder bites in the UK
From the NHS (Plus lots of information on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of adder bites)
- Each year, approximately 100 cases of adder bites are reported in the UK. Most bites occur between February and October, with the number of bites peaking during the summer months. Note: I was bitten by an adder in Norfolk in 1972 when I was seven, though it did not inject much venom).
- Since records began in 1876 there have only been 14 reported deaths caused by adder bites, with the last death a 5-year-old child in 1975.
- In addition to the adder, it is estimated that there are 75 species of exotic venomous snakes held in the UK, both legally and illegally, by private snake collectors and enthusiasts. These snakes are thought to be responsible for between five to six cases of snake bites in the UK each year. Most cases involve the snake’s owner
Statistically you have more chance of being killed by a wasp than dying at the teeth of Britain’s only venomous snake. The Independent