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Black Adder Goes Forth
Posted: 13th March 2009

Photo  Copyright 2009 Sharon Perrett

Most adders are distinctively marked with a dark zig-zag running down the length of the spine.  The males are usually pale grey with a black zig-zag.  Female adders are usually pale brown, with a dark brown zig-zag.  The one in the photo (above) is a melanistic adder.

This particular snake was born with an increased amount of black pigmentation in the body (melanin), but if you look carefully you can still see the slightly darker zig-zag pattern along the spine.  It was spotted by Sharon Perrett and her son at Havant Thicket in Hampshire. 

These darker forms occur more frequently in adders than they do in the smooth or grass snakes and could have advantages over the standard colour scheme.  It's likely their colour offers better concealment (a cunning plan when hunting), and also their bodies warm up faster when basking.

Guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Britain and Ireland >

Related Links:
UK Safari Adder Fact File
UK Safari Reptile Section
UK Safari News

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