IT'S the beginning of spring, you’ve embarked on a sunny walk and you suddenly come across what appears to look like two snakes participating in a courtship ritual.

This, however, is an elegant duel between two competing male adders, which is more commonly known as the famous adder dance.

Adders are one of three snakes that are native to Britain and Britain’s only venomous reptile.

Although this seems serious, which it potentially can be, bites to humans have proven to be rarely fatal, with approximately only 10 incidents in the past 100 years that have been deadly.

Adders initially behave in a shy and non-aggressive manor, however they will become aggressive if threatened and disturbed.

They can be recognised by the distinct ‘zig zag’ that runs along the dorsal side from the anterior all the way to the posterior end of the body.

Adders emerge out of their hibernation at the beginning of spring in March, but occasionally earlier depending on whether the temperature is suitable or not.

Mating occurs during the months of April and May, and females subsequently give birth to live young in August or September.

During this period, adders will feed upon rodents and lizards, and potentially be predated by various species of birds such as crows and buzzards, later returning to hibernation in October, lasting until February where the cycle begins again.

Mating begins with the male choosing a female, which can often be interrupted by a rude competing male adder.

When this occurs, the males will participate in a “dance”.

Although unfortunately this won’t be featured on Strictly Come Dancing anytime soon, the dance is quite a spectacular sight.

It’s more of a duel than a dance, in which the two males almost stand up, in an effort to push each other down, without injuring the opponent.

Adders have been listed as a protected species in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

This means it is illegal to disturb, injure and kill adders.

If you’re not thinking of doing this, then the following habitats are good sites for adder activity: Grassland, Heathland and Moorland, Coastal, and Woodland.

If you happen to come across an adder on your travels, then ensure to record your sighting on Cofnod, which is one of the Local Environmental Records Centres based in Bangor.

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