Common Adder (Vipera berus): A True Viper Common
The Common Adder prefers wooded terrain, grassy fields, and rocky
cliff slopes. Known to frequent farms and cultivated fields, this
snake presents the most danger actually to people walking pets.
More pets are the victims of Common Adder envenomation every year
than humans. The Common Adder hibernates like a Grizzly
also many other reptiles, returning to the same den or lair year
after year to winter-over this terrain. Most pet fatalities result
in the Spring and many veterinarians attribute this to the high
concentration of potent Hemotoxic
venom accumulated in the snake's
venom glands during the hibernation period. Statistics show most
bites in human victims are reported from campers,
hikers and farm workers. Human envenomation from the Common Adder
tends to be about 100 individuals each year, averaging a dozen
deaths. Some of these fatalities actually result from a severe
adverse reaction to the Antivenom treatment
and not the snake bite itself. In comparison, India records an
annual 10,000 human deaths
from the Cobras (Naja species) envenomation but it is the Carpet
Viper's bite strike that is responsible for killing more people
than any other snake in the world annually in its home range in
Africa, India and throughout the Middle East.
a Sanctuary Animal for your Very Own!
Common Adders are
venomous snakes, small but true
very common throughout much of Europe, Vipera berus is
the only poisonous snake found in the United Kingdom.
Common Adders are known to have short
tempers and may strike without
startled or handled. Skin coloring varies
with males of the Adder species light shades
with female Adders more colorful in tones of yellow, browns
and even a brick red. Some adult specimens are completely
black, while most have the striking dark zigzag stripe
pattern running the length of their bodies. Sides or flanks
a line of oval spots positioned almost centered underneath
the zigzag pattern and also running the full
length of their bodies making this snake a very attractive
one. Another identifying feature on the Common Adder is
a very distinct "X" or "V" black shaped
marking prominently place on its head.
TO SEE ANIMAL WEBCAMS
Common Adders reach 50-70 centimeters in length and like the
African Bush Viper, females of the species may achieve a much
larger size than the males. A frequent case of mistaken identity
happens when people confuse the non-poisonous Grass Snake, which
is more dark green in color, for the venomous Adder. The poisonous
Adder is much thicker bodied and shorter
in length with its often grey to brownish skin tones. When a
Common Adder is about to
molt or shed its skin, both the pattern markings and skin color
become lighter in tone and almost take on a dull appearance.
Snakes move against rocks or branches to help remove the old
skin, shedding completely from the lips to the tail with molted
snake skin coming off inside out, including the two scales that
cover the snake eyes.
Even though this snake is venomous and should
be approached only by experienced herpetologists, or individuals
with extensive Wilderness
Survival techniques, it has several natural
enemies. Common Adders are beneficial to man consuming large
amounts of small rodents, voles, lizards, bird eggs, insects
and even snails. On the other end of the food chain, the Common
Adder is a prized prey itself for foxes, Badgers and
the larger bird species, particularly Owls.
The Common Adder normally hunts and becomes most active just
after sunset looking for
meals right after dusk then returning to their lair after feeding.
Common Adders are viviparous, bearing live young. Males emerge
from hibernation in the Spring about a month before the females
and are extremely territorial during mating season, often sparring
with each other to defend territories. Eggs developing and
hatch within the body of the female Adder. Young Adders are
born in mid-summer, with typically 8-10 babies born averaging
lengths of 6 to 7 inches at birth. Common Adders have a slow
reproduction rate, only reproducing once every other year.
Common Adders are also known as the European Viper, the Common
Viper, Gad or Northern Viper and is more prevalent throughout
the southern portion of their European range.
Common Name(s): European Viper, the Common Viper, Gad or Northern
Viper or Southern Viper depending on range.
Scientific Name: Vipera berus
Snake Family: Viperidae
Sub-Family: Viperinae (Vipers)
Description: Medium size poisonous snake. Compact and thick
bodied narrowing at the tail with dark zigzag pattern running
the full length of their grey-brown bodies with oval spots
centered in between this pattern on their flanks. Some of this
species are completely black . Easy to recognize as poisonous
with vertically shaped pupils.
Characteristics: Not known to be aggressive, some say with
a placid disposition, but with a nasty temper and quick to
strike especially if disturbed or caught off guard, particularly
while in the process of thermoregulation or basking in the
sun along its terrain paths.
Reproduction: Viviparous (bearing live young) with typically
8-12 live young born averaging 6-7 inches in length.
Length: 45-60 centimeters (Approx. 1.5-2.0 ft). Females are
larger than males of this species, much like the African
Bush Viper & may reach lengths up to 28-30 inches.
Habitat Distribution: Common throughout Europe and the only
Poisonous snake native to the United Kingdom and the British
Conservation Status: Common Adders are protected by the Wildlife
and Countryside Act of 1981 and may not be removed from the
wild, killed or harmed in any way.