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Adder numbers are in decline

The adder is Britain's only poisonous snake. It is sadly in decline and it's estimated that the adder population has dropped by up to fifty percent in the last fifty years.

In Carol's excellent article of yesterday, photographer and campaigner for snakes, Robin Ward, talks about the decline in adder Vipera berus numbers and the breeding programme that it's hoped will help the species survive. 

I grew up on the sandy heathland of southern England and as a boy, catching lizards and sloworm was a summer holiday pastime. However, I very rarely saw the adder; partly because we crashed around the gorse and ferns a lot and they probably scarpered and partly because we were warned about their 'deadly' bite.

I've often come across people who'd beat a snake - be it an adder, grass snake or sloworm - to death: their the same ones who'd massacre a spider or bumblebee in ignorance. 

I'm sure there are certain circumstances when gardeners must be vigilant and protect themselves from a bite but the adder is more than likely slither off in an opposite direction if disturbed. The top of a warm compost heap is a favourite place for snakes to bask. 

I hope, as gardeners and carers, that we'll all think twice before harming these beautiful creatures.

 

 

 

 

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  • Absolutely agree - yet another creature in decline so depressing. On a related subject, I've had an e-mail from the RSPB asking us to appeal to Vince Cable to not remove the protection from birds and other wildlife and their nesting sites.
  • I heard a radio article on a similar vain a while back on the decline in lizzards one of the causes given was the use of land for the rearing of game birds. Although the birds would not eat the lizzards they would harm them by pecking basking lizzards whilst grubbing for food, domestic pets are also given as a cause of wildlife decline although individually any particular cat or dog would not kill or harm much wildlife the sheer numbers of domestic pets kept means that the actual total is considerable.
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    What a coincidence that this should happen today
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-13177046
  • A lot of the problem in Britain with species decline is that almost everything is on the very edge of its natural range there so survival is on a knife edge even at the best of times. Curiously, this leads to many species being more specialist than in the heart of their distribution range e.g. many butterflies in Britain only have one or two caterpillar food plants, whereas in France they will have half a dozen. Adders are affected by habitat loss and because they are small mammal specialists. Small mammals are in decline also due to habitat loss, but also because of that other small mammal specialist, the domestic cat. Domestic cats are also responsible for the fact that there are no lizards in any major European city. I quite like cats, but would never own one because you cannot realistically control its activities (although keeping them in at night when most small mammals are active is a good start).
  • A few years ago our local vet appealed to cat owners to build cat runs for their pets to avoid the spread of disease - particularly cat aids.

    We now have a large cat run which includes a grassed area and a shed for shelter where they enjoy to spend time on nice days. They are also allowed supervised walks round in the garden - they are happy cats and since they've come into our care have never killed anything! A good compromise I think :)



    Susan Walter said:

    A lot of the problem in Britain with species decline is that almost everything is on the very edge of its natural range there so survival is on a knife edge even at the best of times. Curiously, this leads to many species being more specialist than in the heart of their distribution range e.g. many butterflies in Britain only have one or two caterpillar food plants, whereas in France they will have half a dozen. Adders are affected by habitat loss and because they are small mammal specialists. Small mammals are in decline also due to habitat loss, but also because of that other small mammal specialist, the domestic cat. Domestic cats are also responsible for the fact that there are no lizards in any major European city. I quite like cats, but would never own one because you cannot realistically control its activities (although keeping them in at night when most small mammals are active is a good start).
  • It is terrible to think of snakes being beaten to death and not being seen for their beauty.  Similarly  I have seen a child hit out at butterflies with a stick as if it were a game, I assume that no adults had taught him that that was not a good idea and that having the power to do so, he should protect smaller creatures.  It is interesting that while killing snakes is not a criminal offence those involved that John mentioned, see below, went on to commit one. 

    (John said But I also remember a group of from my primary school beating one to death with clubs on the local heathland common, as though their lives depended on it.  - As if ?

      The same group were involved with stabbing a black person at a high school party a few years later, - hopefully they will still be in prison.)

    I like the idea of a cat run and perhaps our cat should be ketp in at night, but rather than that can something like a bell be enough to warn small creatures away?

  • Hi Carol

     

    We tried a bell with out cat and he came back without out it! :)

    carol miers said:

    It is terrible to think of snakes being beaten to death and not being seen for their beauty.  Similarly  I have seen a child hit out at butterflies with a stick as if it were a game, I assume that no adults had taught him that that was not a good idea and that having the power to do so, he should protect smaller creatures.  It is interesting that while killing snakes is not a criminal offence those involved that John mentioned, see below, went on to commit one. 

    (John said But I also remember a group of from my primary school beating one to death with clubs on the local heathland common, as though their lives depended on it.  - As if ?

      The same group were involved with stabbing a black person at a high school party a few years later, - hopefully they will still be in prison.)

    I like the idea of a cat run and perhaps our cat should be ketp in at night, but rather than that can something like a bell be enough to warn small creatures away?

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