Holt Lowes is an outstanding site for Adders and over 120 have been counted in one day in the spring. Yet, most visitors do not see an Adder, and indeed some regular visitors to the Lowes have never seen one there!

The Adder is the only snake present on Holt Lowes and is easily recognised by the dark zig-zag pattern on its back (there are also Slow Worms on the Lowes, but these are legless lizards rather than snakes, and almost uniformly coloured). Adders emerge from hibernation from late January or early February onwards and bask in a sheltered spot a short distance from their hibernation site. They will come out and bask in most weathers - only snow, rain or cold winds will keep them indoors! They do not go far during this period, and are very faithful to their favoured sites. They are shy, however, and will usually quickly retreat into cover if approached. Later in the spring, around April, they shed their skins and start courtship and mating. During this period they often seem to be a bit 'reckless' and oblivious to what is going on around them. Over the summer the Adders seem to vanish on the Lowes, and sightings become a matter of chance, but by September they are preparing to hibernate again and gather around the hibernacula.

Adders are Britain's only poisonous snake but are not aggressive and will only attack if harassed or threatened. You should never attempt to pick up an Adder and if you are lucky enough to see one they can be watched in complete safety from a few feet away. Although an Adder’s venom poses little danger to a healthy adult human, the bite is very painful and requires medical attention as soon as possible. In Britain there have been only 14 known fatalities since 1876, the last a five-year-old child in 1975 (to put this into perspective, in most years a few people die from the effects of bee stings). Similarly, although the bite is painful for a dog it is unlikely to be fatal (although you should take your dog to the vets). Please note that Adders are specially protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and must not be killed, injured or sold (and if your dog habitually attacks Adders, you should keep it on the lead at all times).



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