Yes, there are snakes in Colchester and the Adder is the only venomous snake native to this country, as opposed to the Smooth Snake and the Grass Snake, which are both harmless. This one was photographed at the Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve, whilst others have been seen on Mersea Island and up at Friday Woods. Although venomous these snakes are not aggressive and will only strike if provoked, so if you see an Adder out walking anywhere, please leave them alone.
Adders can be seen in areas of open countryside, long grassy areas and are often found in woodland habitats, which is where their prey lives. They feed on small mammals, rodents frogs and even young chicks from ground nesting birds. Adders strike at their prey injecting their venom, then wait for their victim to die before eating it whole. Although Adders have teeth, these are used more for gripping their prey as they dislocate their jaw in order to aid the swallowing process.
Adders are very common on a warm early spring day as they are out, actively looking for a mate, and often seen crossing paths as they traverse from one area of habitat to another. At these times they are vulnerable to become prey themselves from buzzards or kestrels who will feed on them.
Adders are easily recognisable from the common Grass Snake due to their distinctive black and white zigzag pattern over their body, although some adders can be all black in colour. Adders are protected by law and therefore can’t be harmed or killed or even traded under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Snake bites are common, mainly in pets who accidently come across them in the long grass, and these bites can be fatal. In humans it’s rare for someone to die from an Adder bite but should this happen to you, then seek medical advice immediately.