Adder nice walk lately?
Byline: DAVE ROBSON firstname.lastname@example.org @Daverobson_gaz
IF you're out for a stroll this weekend, it might be wise to watch where you're walking.
For the milder weather we've been enjoying may bring a few adders out to play.
Gazette reader Martin Parvin saw a zig-zagged beauty while walking on Eston Hills a couple of weeks ago.
But an expert says adders are harmless enough really, so there's no need for hiss-teria.
Sorry, it adder be done! Ecologist Graeme Skinner, of Stockton's Naturally Wild Consultants, feels that snakes in general get an undeserved bad press.
And he says that as long as you leave them alone, they're nothing to be afraid of.
Graeme, who has been studying adders for 35 years, said: "If anyone is lucky enough to see one, they should enjoy the experience from a safe distance and let Tees Valley Wildlife Trust know.
"In our area, they are found on the North Yorkshire Moors and occasionally turn up in Guisborough Woods - and recently on Eston Hills. In fact, it's the first time in probably 30 years I've heard of an adder on Eston Hills. I'd always assumed they had effectively become extinct up there because of the fires.
"Adder numbers have been massively impacted by loss of habitats, such as fires and changes in habitat, and from deliberate illegal persecution.
"But it's best not to make exact locations known as this tends to lead to the wrong type of interest, which may result in persecution -or an unfortunate bite!" Graeme said an adder is typically less than 2ft long but its markings tend to make it look larger. And he says the simple advice if you see one is to admire from a distance and just leave it alone.
"Of course, if you stand on one it might bite you but otherwise, they're a very shy snake and will always try to get away.
"However, if they're cornered or molested, they will bite - and maybe repeatedly.
"The bites are medically significant and should always be treated at hospital. I know James Cook and other A&E units nationwide hold adder anti-venom."
An adder found on Eston Hills by Martin Parvin of Spencerbeck An adder found on Guisborough Moor by ecology and adder expert Graeme Skinner