Move to reassure dog owners over snake bites in Nottinghamshire

Wildlife experts have moved to reassure dog owners in Nottinghamshire over the risk of snake bites.

Friday, 17th June 2022, 11:53 am
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 11:53 am

It comes after a dog owner in nearby Chesterfield, as reported in our sister title, the Derbyshire Times, said her dog was nearly bitten by an adder, Britain’s only venomous snake.

It is currently adders’ breeding season – they hibernate from October to March, but begin to emerge as the weather gets warmer.

While the species are not aggressive, the creatures may bite if they feel threatened.

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According to the Wildlife Trust, adders, which are a protected species, are relatively small, stocky snakes and prefer woodland, heathland and moorland habitat.

Their bite is rarely fatal to humans, although adder bites have killed dogs in some cases.

However, the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust says it is ‘many years’ since an adder was spotted in Nottinghamshire, putting at ease the county’s many dog-lovers who enjoy our beautiful outdoor spaces, from country parks to Sherwood Forest.

While the trust has a long-term aspiration to reintroduce the snake to the county, the lack of sightings, despite a number of surveys, suggest we ‘do not have any remnant populations’.

Erin McDaid, trust head of communications, said: “It’s many years since we’ve had any confirmed sightings of adders in Sherwood Forest or elsewhere in Nottinghamshire, so its very unlikely people will see them.

“People may see grass snakes or even slowworms, which are actually legless lizards.

“If people do think they’ve seen one, it would be helpful if people can take photos with their phone.

“Adders are present across much of the UK and there are healthy populations in areas such as the New Forest which also have high numbers of visitors.

“This means millions of dogs walks a year take place in areas where there are adders, with very few confirmed bite cases and even fewer cases of complications.

“Confirmed cases of dogs being bitten by adders are rare and the official reporting is patchy and don’t always involved any testing, so its likely a significant proportion of reported adder bites are likely to have been caused by something else.

“While dog walkers should always be vigilant regarding their dogs’ safety and should consult a vet if they have any concerns following a reaction to a suspected bite or sting, the presence of adders in the countryside shouldn’t be a significant cause for concern for dog owners.”

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