The adder is Britain’s only venomous snake, and this fact may cause concern for members of the public. ARC’s experience is that there is a great deal of poor or even misleading advice on adders and adder bites available in books, the media and generally on the internet. We believe it is important that people have access to advice that is evidence-based, clear and helpful. The risk of being bitten by an adder is very low, and when it does occur there is effective treatment. Yet understandably many people have questions about the incidence of adder bite, how to treat it, and how to prevent it. In addition people often enquire about the risk of adder bites to dogs.

Whilst the risk of a bite is low and people generally make a full recovery, ARC believes it is important not to under-estimate the potential harm that can result from an adder bite. In drafting our advice, we have reviewed the way that other public health risks are presented. Adder conservation relies on public support for the species, and people have a reasonable expectation of sound information on adder bites. Our experience is that in providing advice along these lines, people who may initially have been fearful or even hostile toward adders can become substantially more understanding.

The adder is facing severe challenges in Britain, with major declines noted in some regions. ARC is working locally and nationally, and in conjunction with partners, to try to turn around these declines. With the summer representing a peak in the incidence of adder bites to people, we are pleased to launch this new advice now as a component of our ongoing work on adder conservation. Read our facts and advice on adder bites below.

To find out more about adders download our leaflets below: