FORESTRY Commission chiefs warned members of the public to never attempt to pick up a snake, after a man was bitten by an adder.

The man was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough after being bitten three times by the snake – the only venomous one native to Britain – after he picked it up while in Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire, on Wednesday (August 6) afternoon.

The 44-year-old man from Doncaster was treated by a rapid response paramedic at the scene soon after the bite and a paramedic from the South East Coast Ambulance Service who was on holiday also helped to treat the man.

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The Great North Air Ambulance trauma team then arrived to stabilise the man before flying him to hospital, where he was said to be seriously ill but in a stable condition.

A spokesman for The Great North Air Ambulance said that he believed the man had been bitten on his arm at least once.

He said: "An ambulance was called first and then the air ambulance was called in called of his deteriorating condition.

"The air ambulance was the best way to help the man because of the forests rural location. We were able to stabilise his condition at the scene before taking him to hospital.”

The Forestry Commission said adders are 'relatively common' and not aggressive animals, using their venom to defend themselves when threatened, usually if they are caught or trodden on.

Forest management director Alan Eves said: "The North York Moors is a good habitat for adders and there is a thriving population in Dalby Forest.

"Most people won't have seen one though and it's even rarer to be bitten by one as they are quite shy and move away from noise and movement.

"Respect that they are wild animals - what you shouldn't do is pick them up."

It is understood the man is recovering well.