We are now offering free online access to a selection of adder photos, as part of our efforts to try and protect the welfare of this species by reducing disturbance. Please read the following information, including the ‘terms of use’ below, before downloading any of these photos.

We hope that providing free photos of adders will improve their chances of breeding and, at the same time, reduce the likelihood of people or pets getting bitten.

Disturbance is a threat to adder survival. Pregnant adders need to bask in the open and, if disturbed, they may abort or re-absorb their developing young. Even if that does not occur, repeated disturbance is likely to result in delayed development of the baby adders and a reduction in their chances of survival. Once born, baby adders only have a few weeks to feed and grow before hibernation. If they have grown to a good size and built up some fat reserves, they will have a better chance of surviving their first winter. In spring, adult male adders may struggle to achieve breeding condition if they are repeatedly disturbed. Many adder populations in Britain are now small and at risk of local extinction, so it is important to prevent any reduction in breeding success.

People are often excited (understandably!) to see an adder in the wild and try to take photos to record the event. It can be very useful from a conservation perspective to take one or two photos for recording purposes, especially if it is a site which is not already known to have adders. But if people get too close, this results in disturbance, with the adder moving away from its basking site.

If you have a telephoto or zoom lens, you may be able to get a good photo from several metres away, with minimal risk of disturbance. Never chase, catch or pick up an adder – you may get bitten. Adder bites are rarely fatal but they can be very painful – so a bite is well worth avoiding.

Terms of use

Wildlife photographers have kindly donated some of their adder photos to our free online library. These photos are free to use. However, please do not use them as part of stories or products which negatively portray snakes. Every year, newspapers and other media organisations produce inaccurate stories which claim that adders have attacked people. Adders do not attack people but they will defend themselves by biting if they are picked up, trodden on or repeatedly harassed.

Feel free to use the photos free of charge for educational or creative projects which portray snakes in a positive light. The striking zig-zag pattern of the adder is an excellent source of inspiration for wildlife art. If you zoom in closely, you will be able to see how amazingly intricate the body of an adder is, from the keels (ridges) on each scale, to the vibrant colours of the eye. We have included high-resolution images which should result in good quality prints, if printed.

The name of the wildlife photographer is included in the name of the image file (but at present, it is not retained when you download individual files from Flickr). Please remember to credit the photographer if you are using a photo in a situation where it is straightforward to do so (such as in an educational presentation) but it is not necessary if the use of text will compromise the style of the work being made.

We would be pleased to hear about anyone using these photos in a positive way; if you have done so, please let us know about your project by tagging us on social media (FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram). 

Go to photo library!


Can I donate my existing adder photos, and if so, how?

Please do not take more adder photos to contribute to our free adder photo library. However, if you already have some high quality adder photos which you would like to donate, in the first instance please email [email protected] with a description of what you have available.

Where can I record an adder sighting?

If you have recorded an adder, please upload your record to the Record Pool.

I have found a shed adder skin. What should I do?

It is possible to extract DNA from shed reptile skins (known as ‘sloughs’). This can be very useful for scientific research. For details on how to submit a slough, please read about the ARC Genebank.

Where can I learn more about adders?

See our dedicated page on the adder, with free advice leaflets, or try our new (for 2020) free online training courses, which include Identifying UK snakes and a Species Focus on the adder. You can also take a look at our Facts and Advice about adder bites.