The Viper or adder in the UK

Finding snakes in Hong Kong is relatively easy, with 43 different land snake species, and a nighttime stroll in the right location rarely goes unrewarded. But the UK only has 3 species of snake, and they are all diurnal, and really quite tricky to find, spot and photograph. I have been fortunate to find a few, in particular the viper that you see here.

This is of course Vipera berus, the common European adder or common European viper, which is Englands only venomous snake.


My sister, Nikki, spotted this one on the path in front of us, and I had a couple of minutes with it in the sun, before it shot off into the heather.

The adder is a relatively small, stocky snake that loves the woodland, heathland and moorland habitats, like in the New Forest. It hunts lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds, such as skylark and meadow pipit.

Females incubate the eggs internally, 'giving birth' to three to twenty live young. This snake is easy to identify, with a very distinct zig-zag pattern down its back, and a red eye.


Here a juvenile out sunning itself, and this behaviour does make them easier to find.

There is quite a lot of colour variation, as you can see from the photo below, of two out in the English sun, and I have seen solid black ones too....


It is a very different coloured snake to the Hong Kong bamboo pit viper, seen below.