Adders emerge from brumation in March and April and begin breeding shortly after. Rival males compete for females by performing a dance-like duel where they rise up and wrestle each other to the ground. Although this is an aggressive behaviour between two males, it can look very elegant and is sometimes mistaken for a courtship ritual.
Females incubate eggs internally and ‘give birth’ to live young. They will sometimes mate with multiple males in a breeding season, and some years will not breed at all if conditions are not right.
Adders are venomous, but their bites are rare and generally not serious. They are shy and will only bite as a last resort if threatened. Saying that, adder bites are most common at this time of year. This is because they can be particularly sluggish as they emerge from brumation, and if they are approached by a person or animal and unable to escape quickly enough, they may resort to biting. This can be avoided, however, if we don’t try to approach or handle them.