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Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata suborder: Serpentes

Family: Viperidae

Physical Attributes:

Size: Average male is 21 inches (53.34cm), female: 24 inches (60.96cm)
Adders have flat heads, broadening behind its eyes so the head appears arrow-shaped.
Colouring: can vary. Females and males can be distinguished by the different genders being different colours.

In Britain Adders hibernate according to the weather usually between October and March. Unlike many other snakes Adders do not burrow, rather they avail themselves of crevices, holes and caves to retire to when hibernating.

Food: lizards, mice, voles and shrews are the main items on a hungry Adder's menu. Young Adder's shall graduate to these foods having had an initial diet of insects and worms.

Adders hunt by scent, tracking their prey then striking their larger victims with a poisonous bite which may take a few minutes to have its deadly effect. In some cases the victim will travel on while the poison takes effect. In such cases the Adder waits before following to eat the now deceased animal.

There is only one snake native to Scotland, Vipera berus of the common adder or viper. Adders hibernate underground. If you think about it, this is reasonable as they must get deep enough to be cool but not frozen solid. To conserve heat they often congregate in mass balls of up to 40 snakes coiled together.

Normally, they move out of the way on the approach of a heavy footed ' predator ', but quickly moving dogs might not be sufficient. Hence dogs may be bitten by adders taken unawares. We are afraid we can't suggest any means to avoid this other than detour round areas where you know adders frequent.

England, being a bit warmer, has a few more snake species, but the adder thrives this far north because it gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs. This is because Adders are ovoviparous , where the eggs remain inside the mother's body until ready to hatch. Hatching takes place inside the mother, hence the live young. These youngsters, though they may often stay with their mother, are capable of independence.

Surprise, surprise! Man is one of the Adder's major enemy with his predilection to kill them on sight, and destry their habitat through continued urbanisation. Hedgehogs capable of withstanding high dosages of poison are also a great threat to Adders, biting the snake, curling up so the snake is faced with a wall of spikes, biting, curling, biting until the snake is dead and can be eaten.