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Adders and what to do if bitten

In 'Visiting Studland Bay'
Where is Studland Bay?
Check the weather for Studland
Driving to Studland and parking
Bus timetables for Studland
The Sandbanks Chain Ferry
Disabled access to Studland
Hotels, guest houses and B&BS
Camp sites in the Isle of Purbeck
The gay beach at Studland
Non-nudist Beaches at Studland
Litter, recycling, fires & bbq's
Taking your dog to Studland
Deer ticks, adders & weever fish
Emergency Telephone Numbers
Things To Do in Dorset
Studland Memories


•  Are there any adders in the front dunes?
What to do if you see an adder?
•  Advice when walking at Studland
•  What to do if you are bitten by an adder
•  What NOT to do if you are bitten by an adder






Adders at Studland

Studland is a natural habitat for adders who favour dry, open heathland. They are only found from February to October as they hibernate during the winter. Adders frequently bask in the sunshine but in high summer they will often retreat to damper areas.

There are couple of 'hot-spots' at Studland where adders are more frequently spotted but they can, and do, pop up in all dune locations. Most of the time that you spot an adder you'll just catch the end of it as it moves from open sand into the long grass.

Are there any adders in the front dunes?
Yes, there are. Although you are more likely to see an adder in quieter locations snakes do pop up in the front dunes. We had a reports of nudist being woken by a snake that travelled over his arm and a few of snakes moving over towels. This is rare and it's not know whether the snakes were smooth snakes or adders.

What to do if you see an adder?
Adders will not bite unless molested and will normally sense your approach and already be moving back into the grass well before you get within touching distance. If you spot one it's perfectly safe to stand and watch it on its way.

Do NOT attempt to catch any snake at Studland. Smooth Snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to disturb these snakes in any way, kill, harm or injure them, cause damage to their habitat or sell or trade them in any way

Advice when walking at Studland
Most bites occur on the ankles so common advice is to wear stout protective footwear in adder habitat, however this is rarely the way we relax at Studland so our advice is as follows:

  • When walking, wear at least a pair of sandals.
  • Be sure you can see clear snake-free sand before you put your foot down. i.e. don't walk through overgrown areas where you can't see the sand/the ground.
  • If you do find yourself in an overgrown area and you don't want to retrace your steps, jump up and down, stamp or hit the ground with a stick to make vibrations and warn any snakes away - adders would rather retreat than confront.

What to do if you are bitten by an adder

Most victims will be frightened when bitten but can gain some reassured from knowing that:

  • Venom is not always injected - often a snake will give you a ‘dry’ bite containing no venom at all.
  • When venom is injected reactions are often local and mild.
  • It is very rare to suffer serious injury from an adder bite and fatalities are very rare - less than 10 since 1960.
  • You may not experience any symptoms at all.

However, an adder bite could be serious for a child and a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) occurs in a small number of patients. Some people develop symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea shortly after being bitten. The area around the bite may swell up or go numb. If you develop symptoms such as paralysis, dizziness or fainting you will need medical treatment.

Try to keep the bitten area still so the venom does not travel around the body.

Go to A&E after being bitten even if you feel fine, just to be sure

If the A&E doctor finds that your have low or unstable blood pressure you may need to have anti-venom treatment. Anti-venom must only be given by a health professional who has carefully assessed the situation because some people can have an allergic reaction to the anti venom. Therefore, anti-venom is usually only given to patients who show symptoms.

Anti-venom is usually given using an intravenous drip. The sooner after being bitten you have the anti-venom treatment the better.

What NOT to do if you are bitten by an adder

  • DO NOT eat or drink anything
  • DO NOT engage in strenuous physical activity
  • DO NOT try to suck or remove the venom from the skin yourself
  • DO NOT cut into or incise bite marks with a blade
  • DO NOT drink alcohol
  • DO NOT apply either hot or cold packs
  • DO NOT try to kill, bag or bring the offending snake
  • DO NOT apply narrow, constrictive tourniquets such as a belts, neckties or cord if you have no medical experience, as it can cause permanent damage and loss of the limb.