Adders, grass snakes, and smooth snakes are the only three species of snakes you can find in the wild in the UK, but the adder is the only native venomous snake.

The snake is not considered to be particularly aggressive: it usually only bites when attacked or picked up.

However, its bite can be quite painful and it will only use its venom as a last means of defence and this is usually if they are caught or trodden on.

Can the venom kill? Well, yes.

However, before you start panicking, bees and wasps have actually killed 60x the number of people in England and Wales than adders.

That said, they should still be approached with caution and bites should be taken extremely seriously.

Here are some facts:

The 10 UK snake bite statistics and facts

According to PetKeen, these are the following facts:

  • There are only three species of snakes found in the wild in the UK.
  • The adder (Vipera berus) is the only venomous native snake in the UK.
  • Bees and wasps are more dangerous than snakes in the UK.
  • The last recorded death in the UK from a snakebite was in 1972.
  • 14 people have died from adder bites in the past 145 years.
  • About 100 adder bites are reported in the UK each year, with most between February and October.

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  • There are also around 100 reports per year of adder bites to dogs.
  • In about 70% of cases, there is a negligible reaction or only local effects to adder bites.
  • 82% of all snakebite cases occurred between April and September.
  • 52% of Britons are afraid of snakes.

Differentiating between UK snakes:

  • Adders (Vipera berus) are grey or reddish-brown, with a dark, zigzag-shaped band along their back.
  • Grass snakes (Natrix natrix) are generally green, with dark spots on the sides and yellow and black.
  • Smooth snakes (C. austriaca) are usually grey or brown with a dark pattern on their back. The pattern along their back is lighter and less zigzag-shaped than on the vipers. There is only one native poisonous snake—the Vipera berus, or viper; however, these can only be found in private collections or zoos.

Most adders have a distinct dark zigzag that runs down the length of their bodies, as well as an inverted “V” shape on their neck.

They are commonly found in areas of rough, open countryside near woodland and are mostly seen in early spring when they emerge from hibernation.

If someone is bitten and has a serious reaction, call 999 and get an ambulance. Put the casualty in the Recovery Position and lower the affected limb below the level of the heart.