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Help look after our endangered adders as they come out of hibernation

Residents are being asked to take extra care when walking their dogs in Cannock Chase in the next few weeks, as vulnerable adders emerge from hibernation. 


As the species faces increasing threats, dog walkers and other site users can play a vital role in their conservation. 


With temperatures beginning to rise, adders are starting to wake from their winter slumber. Cold spells, however, cause them to be sluggish, making them particularly susceptible to encounters with curious dogs. 


Adders are shy creatures that will avoid interactions with people and dogs where possible. However, they may bite if they feel threatened and they are venomous. 


Dog owners are advised to take their pet to a vet immediately if it is bitten. Read more about symptoms of snake bites in dogs here. 


Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture and Chair of the Cannock Chase National Landscape Joint Committee, Victoria Wilson, said: “Adders are an iconic species that have suffered a significant decline in recent years and Cannock Chase is one of their remaining strongholds. We want to make sure that these amazing animals can continue to thrive here, and that we can enjoy the area safely alongside them. 


“Adders are particularly vulnerable as they emerge from hibernation and chilly conditions can make them less able to move out of the way of exploring dogs. So, to keep both adders and dogs safe, please keep pets on a lead and on the paths. This will also make sure that our pets aren’t disturbing other wildlife, such as ground-nesting birds.” 


Dog walkers are advised to avoid walking into tall heather, wet pools and marshy areas, where adders may be sheltering. 


These endangered reptiles also like to bask in sunny patches, so visitors are urged to keep an eye on the path ahead when walking. 


Adders can be distinguished by dark zig-zag markings in their backs – although some can be all black.  


This nationally protected species is rapidly declining across many parts of the UK. In many counties, they face local extinction. 


Cannock Chase is one of the few areas where adders can still thrive along with other reptiles such as common lizards, grass snakes and slow worms. 


Victoria Wilson continued: “Adders are an integral part of the rich diversity that makes Cannock Chase so special for all. 


“This is why the county council is working hard to support surveys on adders and recovery work across Cannock Chase and the wider county. As part of our Natural Environment Strategy, we aim to have a plan developed for the species on our land by the end of 2025.” 


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