Angry Adder

Angry Adder

Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the wood pile…

Yesterday, shortly after my brother had picked up some wood from the pile he keeps outside my house and then left, I noticed a cat playing with a snake on the road. It was pawing it and as the snake lunged it would quickly withdraw its paw. I thought it was a smooth snake until getting closer. It turned out to be the most livid adder (Vipera berus) that I’ve ever encountered.

Despite being Europe’s only poisonous species they’re usually quite docile, but this one started hissing and arching its head at me from several metres away. The cat had enraged it so much that it had clearly become dangerous. As it was a mere few feet from my garden, where my Jack Russell and kids play, it could have had dire consequences. I was really tempted to kill it, something I don’t like doing as I usually don’t have a problem with snakes, but as I was dressed to go out on a motorbike ride and the engine was running, i couldn’t be bothered with skinning it and defleshing – without which the skin would go to waste.

So the snake’s still there, in the rocks someplace. Hopefully, this hot weather will change and it will hibernate and wake up in the spring in a better mood. Otherwise it’ll end up on my barbecue and around my wrist…

Young Smooth Snake

Young Smooth Snake

This year we’ve had many Smooth snakes (Coronella austriaca) – they seem to have replaced the Slow Worm although they don’t eat slugs. They’re non-venomous and nowhere near as aggressive as Grass snakes. From a distance they’re colouring and pattern make them appear as Adders but upon closer inspection they can be easily differentiated due to round pupils, a horizontal facial stripe passing through the eye, smooth skin and a double dot patten rather than a diamond or zig zag running the length of their spine.