I went on a ride today and saw a little snake (couple of feet long or so). So I get up close with the camera and take a few pictures.

Then I get home and show the pictures to Penny at which point she says that she thinks its an Adder, the only seriously poisonous snake found in the UK.

Maybe next time I won’t take pictures from quite so close!

Pictures as always at in the Snake album.


What an enormous privilege to see a wild snake so close. I once nearly trod on an adder when I was out walking. I was able to follow it for a while and get a close look. It was incredibly beautiful, with distinctive markings.

Unfortunately, the photos in the gallery aren’t clear enough to make a psoitive identification. There are 3 species of snake native to mainland Britain: the adder (sometimes called the viper or asp) which is often found sunbathing on footpaths and flat rocks; the grass snake, which is often found near to streams and meadows; and the rare smooth snake.

The adder has a very distinctive set of markings: some people call it a zigzag, others that it’s a series of diamonds. Either way, you can clearly see a dark set of markings down its back. It also has quite an angular head. The bite is poisonous, but not lethal to fit adult humans. I’ve heard it compared to a hornet sting. It will kill small dogs, and might be bad for very young children or infirm elderly adults. It’s not aggressive - it’s natural prey is small mamals, birds and amphibians, rather than unicyclists or hikers, and its bite/venom are designed for killing its prey.

The grass snake is most easily identified by a marking very like a yellow collar. Also, its head is smoother than an adder’s.

As it’s unlikely that it was a smooth snake (pretty rare) you should be able to identify it as an adder (zig zags, rocky path, angular head), or a grass snake (yellow collar, near water. smooth head).

If it had a hood which sort of inflated as it reared its head, then you should not have stopped to take photographs. :astonished:

I’m no snake expert but it looks like an adder to me. The diamopnd pattern on the back gives it away. I have never seen one before and they are not particularly common. It’s cool you managed to get some pics of it!

In the UK there’s also the Slow Worm, which isn’t a snake but a legless lizard so it looks like one.

Here’s a link: -

When I was a kid my cousin found one of these and kept it as a pet; I was really jealous.


Ehh thats not an adder…I believe its a European grass snake…its got a faint collar on it…i used to be obsessed with reptiles and i read everything available on them…and even though I’m from the US i am 99% sure thats a European grass snake…

Nice find.
Although the grass snake looks very similar to an adder, the grass snake is much more slender than the adder.
I cant tell from the pics, but the next time, another way to tell is by the pupils, the adder along with just about every other venomous snakes have vertical slit pupils, instead of regular rounded pupils. But try not to get that close, heh.

Its most definetly an adder.
The snake in the picture shows of venomous characteristics, such as large diamond shaped head, large plated scales, etc etc.

Here’s a site that will clear things up.

If you click in on the pictures to go big, in the sssss one you can see the markings of the snake clearly except for the . According to a helpful snakey mountain biker its an adder because of the diamonds on the side and zig zag along the top and because it was basking in the sun.

Anyway, I’m glad to hear that they’re not very dangerous.


It’s funny, but I was on the fence about what it was. I don’t know jack about European/UK snakes so I started looking around online. Apparently there are quite a few types of adders, so I still couldn’t find a picture that swayed me either way.

Here in GA I have the opportunity to ID snakes at least 2-3 times a week. There are 6 venemous snakes in GA and only 3 that are in the Atlanta area. Of those 3, only one is seen with any regularity. It is a Copperhead. Easy to identify with very distinctive markings and coloring.

Funny thing is every snake that is brought in the person thinks it is poisonous. Funnier than that they swear it is a cottonmouth/water moccasin which isn’t ever found in the Metro Atlanta area. So when I saw people saying that it was definitely an adder, I was inclined to believe the opposite even though I really had no idea. Of course since I wasn’t sure either way I stayed out of the debate. But now with that link provided by SppedyJ, I can say I am a believer, definitely an adder.:smiley: Next time try to get a little closer.:smiley:

Hey Mike, come to Texas, you’ll have plenty of chances to see all kinds of wildlife. I run across rattlesnakes at least once a year while I’m outriding along with armadillos, deer, skunks and the occassional bobcat among other wildlife!!!

ahh ok sry my bad…but that looks nothing like any of the other vipers…there are 4 types of snakes…Colubridae(any snake that isn’t a python viper or cobra is in this family, although there are venomous snakes in this group such as the boomslang). Viperidae(all vipers which includes rattlesnakes, copperheads adders and so on, another reason those pictures confused me is because all the other vipers have a HUGE triangular head). Boidae(pythons and such). and Elapidae(the infamous cobra family, which also includes coral snakes and such.). So unless you live in Asia or Africa you will most likely not run into any cobras:D

This is only a drawing, but pretty realistic…look at the massive head.

Grr well that link doesn’t work ill just type it out and you can copy and paste it

I’ve been riding the California trails since 1996. In all that time, I’ve only seen live rattlesnakes twice, and both times it was on the paved bike path, riding to and from work. On my bike. Next time maybe I’ll stop and try to get some pictures, though from a respectful distance.

I didn’t stop last time because there were some teenage boys around the snake warning people away, and the main one said, as I rode by, that he was about to kill it with a stick or something. I was in a hurry to get home, otherwise I would have stopped to watch, rooting for the snake all the way. I bet the snake won that one…

Apparently the snakes come out to sun themselves on the hot bike path. The first time I saw one, it was about a hundred degrees out. Hell of a time to sun yourself, the then again I’m not a reptile.

Brett Bymaster and I once saw the tail end of a rattlesnake, easy enough to identify, sticking out into a dirt trail. But the thing never moved in several minutes of watching, so we don’t know if it was alive, or even a whole snake. No, I wasn’t going to be the one to find out.

On other trail rides, I’ve missed seeing rattlesnakes, and even a baby bear (Nathan has the picture of that one: I’ve seen plenty of other cool wildlife though, including a very large bull elk and a coyote, both at Yellowstone.

On my way home from work about 2 years ago, a lady was standing in the middle of the road waving cars around her. It was a fairly busy road so I was a little concerned about what she was doing there. As I road past I saw a large snake laying in the road sunning itself.

Since I am fairly familiar with snakes I pulled over and decided to lend a hand. I got out and walked up to the snake which turned out to be one of the largest King Snakes I had ever seen. It was about 6 feet long maybe a little longer. I got a tire iron out of the car and hooked him to move him. He was not happy! In my brain, I knew there was little this snake could do to me that would really hurt, but when it started striking I was a little intimidated. For some reason when I was younger, I would have picked it up with my bare hands and thought nothing of it, but now it actually freaked me out a little.

After quite a bit of coaxing I was able to get the snake to stay on one side of the road. I had to carry him about 50 feet from the road, fighting and striking at me all the way! I try to save the King snakes whenever I can since they are the only snake that can handle a bite from a copperhead and then eat the copperhead. Hope he wasn’t bullheaded enough to try laying out in the same place again. I looked for several months as I passed by that area to see if he had been run over. Thankfully I never saw him again.

Second good snake story. I was going into a crawl space of a house when I saw a snake about 1 foot from my face. I grabbed it by the tail, and flung it out the crawl space door. One of the guys working for me at the time was standing a little close and the snake actually wrapped around his abdomen. It hit him so hard it left a welt! I wasn’t able to convince him to go into the crawl space after that, and soon he was looking for employment elsewhere.:smiley: Fortunately for him that was in the 90’s when jobs where easy to find.

Re: snakes?

“joemarshall” <> wrote in message
> I went on a ride today and saw a little snake (couple of feet long or
> so). So I get up close with the camera and take a few pictures.
> Joe

Definitely an adder, easily identified in the magnified view where the
diamond like pattern becomes easily visible.
Sadly I have myself never seen one outside a zoo.


Re: snakes?

“Eublapharis13” <> wrote in

> such.). So unless you live in Asia or Africa you will most likely not
> run into any cobras:D
Yup, when I lived in Asia we used to get all sorts of interesting creatures
in and under the house. We became quite used to cobras, but I admit that
in those days I did not have the love of wildlife I now have, and so quite a
few snakes met their deaths, because it was thought necessary. Only the
house lizards were welcome (as mosquito removal agents).
Here in the UK I miss the rich wildlife we had and have so far here only
seen a couple of grass snakes, and I gather that I have been lucky to have
had that privilege.