Adders are exiting hibernation, and dog owners are being warned to be on high alert as a number of them have been seen across the county. A bite from an Adder can be particularly fatal to a dog.
The species is also the only venomous snake native to Great Britain.
After emerging from hibernation in early spring, Adders will spend a number of days (or weeks) basking on and off in open sunny sites within woodland, moorland, or heathland grassland where the snakes can catch and feed on rodents and lizards.
The Adder's breeding season starts in April/May and then the young emerge in August/September. Unlike most snakes, female Adders do not lay eggs but give birth to live young.
Dave Leicester, head of clinical intelligence at Vets Now, has drawn up an advice guide on what to do if a dog is bitten by an adder:
If you think your dog has been bitten by an Adder, take him to a vet as quickly as possible. The sooner your dog sees a vet, the better their chances of making a full recovery.
Carry your dog to reduce the spread of the adder’s venom around your dog’s body.
Bathe the wound in cold water to help control the swelling.
Keep your dog warm, but not too warm, and quiet as you transport him to the vet.
Don’t attempt any first aid as this can do more harm than good.
He said: “Adder bites are more frequent in the spring when the snakes are just out of hibernation.
“Adders will only bite a dog in self-defence. Generally, bites occur when a snake is stepped on or disturbed.
“Most adder bites occur on a dog’s legs or face and typically result in a dark, painful swelling. Owners may also be able to see two small puncture wounds in the centre of the swelling.
“The swelling can become severe and may result in breathing difficulties, as a consequence of an allergic reaction to the toxin, particularly if the dog has been bitten around the head and neck.