Adder Vipera berus

The Adder is a relatively small, stocky snake which prefers woodland, heathland and moorland. It hunts lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds such as Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Adders hibernate from October, emerging in the first warm days of March, which is the easiest time of year to find them basking on a log or under a warm rock.


Adders are grey or reddish brown, with a darker and very distinct zig-zag pattern down their backs. Black forms are sometimes spotted.


Length: 65cm

Weight: 50-180g


Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.


Widespread across the Scottish mainland, but not found on many of the Scottish Islands.

When to see

March – October


The Adder is Britain’s only venomous snake, but its poison is generally of little danger to humans: an Adder bite can be very painful and cause a nasty inflammation, but despite stories is really only dangerous to the very young, ill or old. Adders are secretive animals and prefer to slither off into the undergrowth than confront and bite humans and domestic animals; most attacks happen when they are trodden on or picked up. Instead, they use their venom to immobilise and kill their prey of small mammals, nestlings and lizards.

Average Lifespan: 8-10 years

Common name


Species name

Vipera berus

IUCN Red List status

Least Concern

When to see in Scotland

March – October

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