Passengers travelling through Seascale station in Cumbria might, if they look very carefully, see something rather unusual in the nearby undergrowth.
The UK’s only venomous snakes, adders, have been spotted very close to the station and train operator Northern is calling on customers in the area to be considerate to the reclusive reptiles.
One of just three species of snake found in the UK, adders, otherwise known as vipers, can grow up to 80cm (under three feet) long. They are usually active between March and October and generally hibernate during the winter. They have been seen near to the station in the past few weeks,, but have been regular residents in Seascale in the past few years.
Northern’s regional director Chris Jackson said: “The railway – together with embankments and the surrounding area – provides some fantastic habitat for the natural world. It’s great to see such wonderful wildlife near to our station, but we need our customers to respect these relatively secretive snakes.”
Recognisable by the distinctive zig-zag pattern along their backs and, if you get close enough, their red eyes, adders are rarely a risk to people and prefer to hide rather than bite either humans or domestic animals.
According to The Wildlife Trusts, an adder bite can be very painful and cause a nasty inflammation, but is really only dangerous to the very young, ill or old. However, if bitten, medical attention should be sought immediately.
“The snakes are a protected species,” Chris added, “and, though they are fascinating, should be left alone if they do happen to slither onto the station. Don’t approach them or try to pick them up – they may view this as being threatened – instead, give them space and allow them to move on their way.”