"..a bardy view!"

Black Adder?

The news that a child has been bitten by an Adder in England's New Forest reminds us that for all Adder_Identification our comforts, luxuries and clinically clean homes, there is wildlife out there which can be dangerous.

This is particularly the case in Britain. The British believe there are no dangers from animals other than being bitten by a dog or stung by a wasp.

Indeed, so blasé, they will merrily approach a stag deer on heat, and become surprised and shocked at the level of provocation the act engenders.

Most assume that all domesticated animals have received a modicum elementary education in human interaction and permit their little darlings to pet and annoy them with impunity.

I'm not criticizing the parents of this particular child, indeed it could happen to anyone, but what I find astonishing is the fact that a snakebite could generate so much attention. Only in England could such an event make headline news.

there are only two native snakes in the UK. One is the humble and harmless Grass Snake, and the other is the venomous but not lethal Adder. Indeed, the British adder is unique in that it has an entirely red iris with a vertically split pupil (teachers take note).

What I admire about the Adder is that it wears a coat which clearly advertises its danger. It says, in a very British way "look, I've got a very distinctive skin, I mind my own business, I'd appreciate being left alone, and damn it all, I have the decency to tell you!"

Now, there aren't many snakes like that in the world. Some are so bold that they positively lay in wait for some poor unsuspecting careless individual, and creep up when they're not looking. Some will slither into a house without so much as a by your leave, and others will actually make a snap judgement over you and a cow. These are snakes to be afraid of.

There are some real snakes in the grass out there. And there are snakes which suddenly appear when you're having a swim, and there are even some which pop up in the toilet bowl just as you're about to deposit waste down it.

Most snakes, to my knowledge, aren't looking for trouble and generally keep out of the way. But they have a very bad press, and wallow on the bottom of the cuddly creature ratio.

We complain about the culling of Canadian puppy seals, but would be unlikely to care a jot about the endangered Garter Snake for example. Snakes are one of the most endangered species on the planet. They play a critical role in the environment, both keeping insect population down and being a crucial part of the food chain for other predators.The Rat Snake for example eats 100 rats a year.

So while I wish the unfortunate child a speedy and painless recovery, I do hope it wont result in an army of vigilante Adder bashers. On the contrary, I hope it educates the populace and starts raising awareness of the disappearing wildlife they have on their doorstep.


April 23, 2011 - Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. As is often the case with your writings there is such a degree of truth between all the humour. I couldn’t agree with you more and in Africa there are many superb animals now facing extinction. How dreadfully sad and completely uncalled for. Great read.


    Comment by Spook Moor | April 24, 2011 | Reply

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