Yesterday I saw one of our female adders, and she looked a lot thinner than she had been... I have been telling people she is likely pregnant, especially from her behaviour and size, but even so thought nothing of it. My mind was just a blank... Then today, we saw some baby adders!
They can only be one or two days old at most, and have put on a good display today in exploring around their enclosure. I am afraid I have let you down a little with the pictures I managed to get, but check out this beauty below taken by Dave Burden!
"Yawning Baby Adder" - by Dave Burden
Incredible isn't it!.. This little un was crawling over the top of the bracken, and then kindly looked straight at Dave before giving a huge yawn! Look closely enough (click on the pic to make it bigger) and you can even see the little fangs they have even from day one!
Their fangs, like the adults, are hinged. When their mouth is closed, they are flat along the roof of the mouth, and hinge to point down when they open their mouth. This helps to protect their invaluable tool for ensuring they catch their prey.
Adders are venomous from day one, and often more potent when neonates as they are inexperienced in controlling their venom.
Look how tiny they are next to the log! Adders are born "live" as opposed to the mother laying eggs to be incubated. As you may imagine, it is a special kind of live birth. They erupt from membraneous eggs whilst still inside the female, and then come out live before the membranes are ejected too.
Adders litters are usually around the higher single numbers, but can number many more. I only saw four different ones today but there may well be more.
Keep an eye out for them next time you are here. You will have to be patient, as they are so small you can easily miss them.
As always, for more related pics, this time of adult adders, click the "More BWC Photos" tab above.