Protect your dog and be on guard against venomous snakes while out walking in the Peak District

Adders will sometimes bite in self-defence if disturbed or provoked.
Adders will sometimes bite in self-defence if disturbed or provoked.

Dog owners are being urged to keep their animals under control when they are out walking across the Peak District - to avoid them being bitten by potentially dangerous snakes awakening from their winter hibernation.

Recent warm weather has brought adders out from their slumber in areas such as Curbar and Stanage to the north of Bakewell. There are thought to be around 100 - 150 of the reptiles in total within the national park.

The adder - or common European viper, is the only venomous snake native to the UK, but they are not aggressive creatures unless they feel threatened.

However, when they are bounded upon by eager dogs exploring off the lead they could potentially strike out.

Chris Monk, volunteer for the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group, said: “Adders are actually very timid creatures normally - their main predators are large birds such as crows or buzzards and they just slink away.

"However, when dogs come barging through vegetation quickly on to them that's when they could potentially bite. The advice is to keep dogs on the lead and under control. Uncontrolled dogs could also disturb ground nesting birds. If your dog is bitten by an adder take it to the vet immediately."

Mr Monk said some dog owners were confusing other animals with adders when taking them for treatment for injuries at the vets.

"We are getting some people confusing their dog having a fight with a mink or a rat in their garden or on moorland with it being bitten by an adder. They only live in very restricted areas, venturing for a few hundred metres. Lots of people also confuse them with grass snakes.

"The population of adders nationally is in freefall - but in Derbyshire it has held reasonably stable."