Scotland’s only native snake is also our most notorious reptile, as it’s the only venomous one.

Our only native snake is Scotland's sole venomous reptile. But the adder is a timid creature and unlikely to bite unless threatened.

An adder’s preferred defence is to hide in the undergrowth. But if a person gets too close, the adder will lash out to enable its escape.

Most bites happen when people try to handle adders. If you find one in the wild, leave it alone and let it move away quietly of its own accord.

Adders put on an impressive display in the breeding season, though humans don’t often see it. The ‘dance of the adders’ is a form of a wrestling match between males competing for a mate.

In this display, two adders twist around each other, rising higher and higher, and each trying to force the other to the ground. The dominant animal wins the female.

Amorous adders
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Adders (Vipera berus) mating at the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve.


Protection of adders

Find out about protected species of amphibian and reptile.

Report a sighting

You can report any sighting of an amphibian or reptile to the Record Pool.

Alternatively, find out about taking part in the National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme.

As well as adder sightings, grass snake sightings are sometimes reported. These are probably escaped pets or they have been transported here accidentally. So far, we have no proof that grass snakes live here permanently and breed here in the long term.

Find out more

Scottish Adder Survey

Read our guidance for planners and developers on protected animals.

Read our latest news release Farmers and land managers urged to share adder sightings (22 March 2023)

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