Adder ID

Individual head markings

Unique head markings on this small female

One of the major features of the past few days has been the quantity of adders moving around on the hill, and one very small area in particular has consistently shown good numbers on consecutive days. Amongst this group, there are three very consistent individuals who are always within a few feet of where I see them every day, coiled up on tussocks of cottongrass, tormentil and lousewort. A particularly large female drew my attention to the spot in the first place when she rose up and hissed savagely as I passed, and further inspection revealed a small female and a moderately large male within six feet.

Rodger McPhail’s excellent book on adders informs me of the theory that each individual snake has a unique set of markings on its head, so lots of photographs have enabled me to check and double check these adders to ensure that I am certainly dealing with the same ones each time I see them. I am very keen to collect a shed skin, but the only ones I’ve been able to find so far have been fragmented and tatty. A decent piece was blowing in the wind when I was walking the hills up near Banchory on Friday, but it still falls short of the whole ghostly white ribbon I’m after.

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