Written by Chloe Davey, Transforming Lives Trainee.
To answer this question let’s talk a little about what adders are. They are a stocky, venomous snake (the only one native to the UK) with adults measuring between 60-80cm in length and can be found throughout the UK except for Northern Ireland. Adders were once a common sight to behold, particularly in the countryside, but in the last decade alone their numbers have seen further declines with each passing year. It is predicted that adders will become extinct in the near future, 2032 to be precise! I’ll discuss the main threats that have led to this decline which could lead to the end of this stunning creature.
Habitat Loss – A common threat to a species decline, whether it’s building more houses, more roads or expanding agricultural land. In Europe alone, the expansion of agricultural land and poor habitat management is believed to be the most detrimental for adder populations.
Persecution – It is illegal to kill, injure or harm an adder, but there are individuals that disregard these laws and will actively seek them out to eliminate them. There is a common misconception that adders are dangerous due to their venomous bite, but they will only bite as a last resort to defend themselves. There have been 14 recorded human deaths from adder bites since 1876, the last being in 1975.
Pet Trade and Venom Extraction – Unfortunately, adders are yet another species being exploited for profit from the illegal pet trade and venom trade. Snake venom is used for studying medicine and finding cures, but it can also be used for producing harmful drugs.
It’s heartbreaking knowing that a species like the adder could be wiped out in the next decade. I’ve had such an amazing experience with Froglife researching them and surveying them in person. I hope I’ve made you more aware of the threats facing adders and if we work together, hopefully we can give this amazing creature a chance of survival and see a population growth.
We need your reptile records! If you see adders or any other reptiles out and about, please use our free Dragon Finder app to record them. All data is sent to the NBN Atlas and will help us in our research to conserve reptiles and amphibians.