Adder (Vipera berus)

Vipera berus, the European adder or Northern viper, is a venomous viper species that is widespread and can be found throughout most of Western Europe and all the way to Far East Asia and as far north as the Arctic circle. Adders have been the subject of much folklore in Britain and other European countries. They are not regarded as highly dangerous; the snake is not aggressive and usually only bites when alarmed or disturbed. Bites can be very painful, but are seldom fatal.

 

Adder (Vipera berus) - Basking

The adder is found in different terrains, habitat complexity being essential for different aspects of its behaviour. It feeds on small mammals, birds, lizards, amphibians and in some cases on spiders, worms and insects. Females breed once every two or three years with litters usually born in late summer to early autumn in the Northern hemisphere. The adder, like most other vipers, is ovoviviparous; litters range in size from 3 to 20 with young staying with their mothers for a few days. Adults grow to a length of 60 to 90 centimetres (24 to 35 in) and a mass of 50 grams (1.8 oz) to about 180 grams (6.3 oz).

In the UK the adder is considered to be local and vulnerable in many different places. Recent research has shown a decline in the species in Eastern England & the Midlands (Baker et al 2004). It is a red data book species in various counties (Essex, Kent) and is also a priority species under the UK's National Biodiversity Action Plan (Arc Trust 2007)