Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Concern for Vipera berus in the UK

The following story is on the Daily Mail website go to the website for the complete article, my summary follows. The adder (Vipera berus) is endangered and Britain's only poisonous snake is in urgent need of help. more so than any other reptile or amphibian species in the UK. A conservation conference at the Greenwich University campus in Chatham, Kent, met over the weekend to discuss ways of saving the once common snake from extinction. The conference attendees supported a plan to create a website for a survey project using volunteers to monitor snake numbers locally. Adders are in decline and already extinct in some counties such as  Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. Damage to hibernation sites, such as rabbit holes and tree roots is one of the major threats. 'The adder is an enigmatic snake, steeped in history and folklore, from the druids to Shakespeare and Arthurian legend" said herpetologist Dr Chris Gleed-Owen told the Daily Telegraph, and  'It would be tragic to see it disappear.' Despite the decling numbers, there is anecdotal evidence increased bites in people and pets for this year. In July, two dogs died in Essex after being bitten by poisonous adders that were out in unusually large numbers because of the hot weather. There have been 14 known fatalities among humans in Britain since 1876. The most recent was a five-year-old child who died in 1975. Antivenom is now available, which reduces the damage caused by the venom.

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