Adderlings! OK, baby adders or "neonates". But I prefer to call them adderlings.
Aren't they beautiful! Stunning little miniatures of their adult form... Bellatrix, our female, mated earlier this year after the boys showed off with their dancing and last weekend she gave birth. Unlike many snakes, adders don't lay eggs but give birth to live young... or to get a bit complicated, they appear to give birth to live young but in fact they develop inside the female in little egg sacs which usually erupt just before or while giving birth.
Female adders usually have around double figures of young, and we have seen eight at once so far... so a good litter.
Daddy's little girl!.. This gives you the scale (get it, scale :-) ) of how big the adderlings are when first born. This is a one day old adderling basking next to one of our males.
They are full independent from the moment they are born. The father, and even the mother, has nothing to do with them once they are out in the real world. The adder is our only native venomous snake in this country, and even from day one they can administer a venomous bite.
But look at her... butter wouldn't melt!
They do have a bad reputation, or a misunderstanding is perhaps a better way of putting it. Adders are very docile animals, and will usually be long gone before you see them out in the wild. Much rather slinking away than to be near us. Usually they would only bite if someone tried to handle them when they didn't want to be, or they where accidentally stepped on... but then wouldn't most wild animals do this!
In the extremely unlikely event that you were bitten by an adder, then you would likely just get a painful swelling and feel a little sick/unwell for a few days... That being said, if you do get bitten by an adder, it is always best to seek medical advice just in case you react badly to it and require some extra care or treatment.
Oh, they are stunning little snakes though. I spent an hour in with them the morning after they were born and before we opened to the public. We had about 5 adderlings basking on the logs, and when I jumped in the adults all stayed but the youngsters slinked off.
Sneaking up to the log pile, and hanging around for twenty minutes they slowly begun to crawl back to bask. One even had a slight altercation with a spider, I'm not sure who was more surprised than the other, but fun to watch.
If we are talking about baby snakes, we have to mention our grass snakes!
We had about 100 eggs in there or so, and about 60 odd have hatched. Take that all those that say they have never seen our grass snakes! :-)
They are much shyer than our adders, but the grass snakelings (hmm, that doesn't quite work as well) our little grass snake neonates are great and some lucky visitors have seen them exploring their compost and swimming across their ponds.
They are pretty cute too aren't they!.. Maybe not so much as the adders, but still something about them. Completely harmless too.
They are a little older, a couple of weeks or so now, but similar in size to our adderlings so pretty difficult to spot. When curled up our little neonates of both types are not much larger than the size of a fifty pence piece.
If you are visiting soon, just spend a little time up by the snake enclosures, and with a little patience hopefully you will get to see these stunning little strikers.