Rare black adder spotted near Anglesey beach prompts pet alert

A rarely seen black adder spotted near Traeth Borth Wen beach
A rarely seen black adder spotted near Traeth Borth Wen beach -Credit:David Wall

A snake-shy father and his son were taken aback when chancing upon a rare black adder near an Anglesey beach. The encounter came as a veterinary poisons service warned of an increase in snake bites this spring.

With the adder season now in full swing, after winter hibernation, sightings of the venomous reptile have been made across Anglesey and Gwynedd in recent days. David Wall and son Hugo, from Trearddur Bay, came across an unusual variety as they headed to Borth Wen beach, Rhoscolyn.

Typically, male adders are silvery-grey and females reddish-brown – but this was black. Only the trademark zig-zag pattern on its back confirmed its identity as an adder.

READ MORE: Shocking footage of 'linesman assault' at Anglesey football match sparks police probe

READ MORE: People warned about getting in water at four beaches and a lake in North Wales

“I’m petrified of snakes,” confessed David, a financial adviser. “I kept my son and our dog well away and usually I would have done the same. But as I wanted proof of what we’d seen, to show my wife, I got out my camera.

“It appeared to be bathing in the sun. It may not have been there long as it was still a little dazed - it hung around for the 10 seconds I needed to get the photo. As soon as I took it, the snake scarpered off.

“I gather it’s very rare to see a black adder. In fact, this was the first snake I’ve seen on Anglesey, let alone a black one.”

Black adders are melanistic varieties, meaning they were born with extra black pigmentation (melanin). One possible benefit of being darker is the extra concealment this offers in certain locations. Being black can also help their bodies warm up faster when basking.

When David shared a photo of his and Hugo’s discovery on social media, it prompted squeals of horror and one or two inevitable quips. “Did you see Baldrick as well?” inquired one man, tongue firmly in cheek. The North Wales Live Whatsapp community for top stories and breaking news is live now - here’s how to sign up

Borth Wen is one of the many beautiful coves on Anglesey's Holy Island
Borth Wen is one of the many beautiful coves on Anglesey's Holy Island -Credit:David Wall

Adders are Britain’s only venomous snake but they rarely bite, preferring to avoid confrontation with people. In Britain there hasn’t been a human snakebite fatality since 1975 – bee or wasp stings pose a much greater danger.

For this reason, seeing a beautiful adder is often regarded as a privilege. However, being more inquisitive, dogs can be more vulnerable, and last week, an adder warning was posted by the London-based Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Having seen rise in calls about adder bites, it issued advice if pets are attacked.

Essentially, pet owners should not interfere with the bite site, nor apply a tourniquet. If light enough, they should carry their dogs to their cars and drive to their veterinary practice. “Do not delay seeking advice even if your pet is well,” the VPIS said. “As things can change quickly.” Clinical signs can include rapid swelling, lethargy, vomiting, bleeding and collapse.

As the rain has relented, there’s been a spate of adder sightings in northwest Wales, especially on the Llŷn Peninsula. Adders have been spotted at Morfa Nefyn and further west, at Plas Rhiw and nearby Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth).

Another was recorded on the headland between Porth Cariad and Abersoch. There was also a report from Black Rock Sands, Morfa Bychan. Sign up for the North Wales Live newsletter sent twice daily to your inbox

Find out what the weather has in store near you