Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


Home Page


What's on



Dymock Group


Contact Us


28 May 2019

Gorsty Knoll

Grid Ref SO588087

It was a dank, dismal day which made butterfly surveying obsolete! However, we were very fortunate to have Nigel Hands with us from the Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (HART). He has been doing adder surveys in the Forest of Dean and he explained the life cycle and distribution of adders as well as locating an adder for us to see.

As we arrived at the site, a Red Kite was seen flying high over our heads.


Nigel Hands is showing us the GPS tracker which they fit onto a tail of an adder and they can then track it using the arial. The trackers stay on the adders tails for approximately 50 days.

The female adders tend to stay within a few metres of an area but the males can travel more than 100 metres when searching for a female.

Mating takes place in April/May and female adders incubate their eggs internally, rather than laying shelled eggs (which the grass snake does). Adders give birth to around 6 to 20 live young in August or September. Adders feed largely on small rodents and lizards. They hibernate from around October to February, depending on local conditions.

Adders typically live to 5-10 years. Their main predators include birds such as crows and buzzards.






This is their monitoring gadget which emits a bleep when an adder with a tracker is nearby.

The adder is one of our three native snake species, most often found on heaths, moors and coastal areas. However, its secretive nature and camouflaged markings mean it often goes unnoticed. Whilst it has a large range across the UK, recent declines especially in central England, mean it is of major conservation concern. 

Our team are searching through the young bracken. Bracken residue is ideal for adders to hide in.