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Adders on the Sunny Side of the Street

Adders on the sunny side near Branton

During the recent heavy snow of the Beast from the East, adders were difficult to find. However, as soon as there was some respite, they could be spotted quite easily once more on the sunny side of the street!

adders on sunny side (3P8A6396) south-facing

Adder on south-facing woodland margin

Adders, like all snakes, are ectotherms. This means that they depend on external sources to regulate their body temperature. This is why you’ll see basking adders coiled up or stretched out in the sunshine, perhaps on warm soil or dark rock.

adders on sunny side (3P8A6411) stretched

Stretched-out adder

Adders typically emerge from hibernation in late February (I saw my first adder of 2018 on 23 February) to bask in the weak, late-winter sun. The common adder is remarkably well-adapted for life in colder northern climates and is capable of moving over snow to find a suitable basking place.

They are frequently associated with woodland-edge habitats and this is particularly obvious at the Branton Nature Conservation Area, where they can typically be spotted around the Reserve’s margins near the car park entrance along the road to Branton. The photo below (taken 11 March 2018) shows how remains of snow from the Siberian Bear persists along the north-facing side of the road, while the south-facing strip is free of snow. And, of course, this is where the adders bask.

adders on sunny side (3P8A6383) road to Branton

Snow-covered north-facing margin and warm south-facing margins along road to Branton

adders on sunny side (3P8A6402) active

Adders on the sunny side of the street are now visible again at Branton

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