What to do if you come across a snake this summer

As temperatures warm up and summer is upon us our native snakes are coming out of hibernation and are on the move looking for mates.


Snakes are secretive and prefer to avoid humans whenever possible, but during the Covid lockdowns they have become less fearful as there have been less people around.

There are three species of snake within the UK that can cause harm to humans: adders, grass snakes and smooth snakes. They can be identified by the colouring and patterns on their skin and live in different habitats. Most of the snake species found across the UK cause minimal harm to humans and our pets, but the adder is the one to watch out for as it is venomous.

Normally seen in woodland and heathland the adder and grass snake are the species you are most likely to come across. The smooth snake is rarely spotted and only lives in a few heathlands in the UK. If you spot a snake in your garden, they are most likely to have been hiding in your compost heap where it is warm and damp. At this time of year snakes will be basking in the sunshine under the cover of long grasses, crops and in sunny spots in the woods.  

Spotted a snake? Don't panic. Just enjoy it from a distance. The biggest risk for pet owners is if your dog finds a snake and disturbs it, they may get bitten, but this risk is very small. If you're not sure if you live in a known adder spot, you can check here: https://species.nbnatlas.org/species/NBNSYS0000005075.  

If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a snake even though they may appear fine at first, do not wait. Get to your vet immediately for attention. Ideally, call ahead and send them a description or photo of the snake if you have it to help identify which snake has bitten your dog.

Keep your dog calm and don't make a huge fuss as this can make the bite's effect worse if it is an adder bite. In 70% of cases there is no envenomation, which means no venom was injected by the snake, so your dog should be fine.

In emergency: Animal Poison Line ( there is a fee for this service)

01202 509000

NHS advice for snake bites: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/snake-bites/