East Lothian dog owners warned after venomous adder spotted

Dog owners have been warned to be cautious, after a venomous snake was spotted by a hiker in East Lothian.

By Anna Bryan
Monday, 25th April 2022, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 10:32 pm

Allan Thorne was walking in the Lammermuir Hills last week, when he spotted an adder – the UK’s only poisonous native snake.

His sighting marks the start of adder’s breeding season. Adders hibernate from October to March, but they 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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Their bite is rarely fatal to humans, however, adder bites have killed dogs in some cases.

In 2019, a cocker spaniel from Edinburgh was forced to have her leg amputated, after she was bitten by the venomous snake.

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A dog owner in Wales paid more than £3,500 on vet bills after her Staffordshire Bull Terrier was bit on the nose by an adder last week.

Adders are coming out of hibernation. Picture: Ian Rutherford

She told Wales Online that her vet had another dog come in with an adder bite on the same day, and said: “It’s definitely a cause for concern and I'd like to ensure more people are aware of the seriousness of adder bites and to make sure they keep a close eye on their dogs."

Scottish SPCA head of education, policy and research, Gilly Mendes Ferreira, said: “Adders come out of hibernation in spring and are the only venomous snake in the UK.

“They are not aggressive snakes and only tend to use their venom as a last resort, for example if they are stepped on or cornered.

Dogs can also occasionally disturb adders while on their walk. If you are worried your dog has been bitten by an adder please seek veterinary treatment immediately.

“If anyone does come across an adder while out walking we’d simply advise them to give the snake plenty of space and leave it alone. If you are concerned you may have been bitten by an adder we would advise that you seek immediate medical attention.”

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