Staff and volunteers of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation found there are still new things to experience in UK wildlife when they witnessed the birth of a baby adder.

The group was undertaking a survey at Blackheath Common in Surrey on Tuesday 6 August when they spotted what looked like a large slug in the heather.

In fact it was a young adder still curled up inside its embryonic sac – a protective membrane that surrounds each of the 10-20 babies born to a female adder.  As they watched, the new-born adder pushed its way through the membrane and slid into the undergrowth to start its life. Adders tend to give birth in sheltered spots, away from disturbance, and the babies quickly break out of their embryonic sacs, so few people ever get to see this.


Ralph Connolly, ARC’s Weald Field Officer and Volunteer Co-ordinator, said: “ARC has been managing a 14-hectare area of this beautiful Waverley Borough Council site for 30 years and a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience like this demonstrates the value of both consistent habitat management and monitoring.

“ARC works on over 30 sites in the Surrey/ Hampshire Weald alone and regular volunteer surveying builds up an invaluable dataset of records to inform the national conservation organisation’s habitat management.

“It was a special moment for staff and volunteers to get such great views of a baby adder taking its first ‘steps’.”

ARC volunteers make an amazing difference for reptiles and amphibians through practical tasks and monitoring, as well as the chance to enjoy some of Britain’s top wildlife spots. Find out more on our volunteer pages