First let me say, this may well be a love it or hate it post... there are photos below of adders feeding and even a short video clip. If you would prefer not to see out adders eating voles, best to give this post a miss.
Of course we have to feed our adders, as we do all our animals here at the Centre, but I have always tried to feed the adders when we have been quieter, usually when we are not open. The reason for this... it seems snakes feeding has a mixed reaction. Where as most people are OK with us feeding our carnivores rabbits or chicks etc, the thought of a snake feeding on a mouse is sometimes disliked.
A couple of weeks ago though, I had to feed them during the day when we were open, I tried to time it for when it was a bit quieter in that area of the Centre... but within ten minutes or so quite a few people had gathered, and most were fascinated by the way they ate!
Most of you already know I have a soft spot for our adders, and have studied and worked with snakes for longer than I have been at the BWC. For an animal with no limbs to be able to eat prey much larger than them, with relative ease, is fascinating to watch.
Snakes do not dislocate their jaws, but do have independent moving mandibles of the lower jaw. They are joined at the front by a very strong and flexible ligament, allowing the snake to open their mouth extremely widely. By being able to move each lower jaw bone separately, the snake can then "walk" the prey in by pulling with first the left side and then the right.
I once read that an adult adder only needs to feed on two adult voles a year to survive! We offer ours food once every two or three weeks from roughly a month after they emerge from hibernation until the begin to slow down in the Autumn.
OK... I think that has been enough rambling to separate some feeding pics from those who didn't wish to see them...
And for those who would like to see a bit of it in action, here is a short video clip...