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
- When venom is injected reactions are often local
- 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
Try to keep the bitten area still so the venom does not
travel around the body.
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
What NOT to do if you are bitten by an
- 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
- 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.