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UK Press: Snake Bites Woman On Beauty Spot Beach

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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 20, 2003 at 11:47:39:

WESTERN MORNING NEWS (Cornwall, UK) 19 April 03 Snake Bites Woman On Beauty Spot Beach (Jamie Mcginnes)
Blistering sunshine has seen some of the Westcountry's more venomous inhabitants crawling out of hibernation to hit the beach. At least two people have been bitten in the region in recent weeks by the UK's only poisonous snake - the adder.
On Wednesday afternoon, a mother from Modbury was taken to hospital after being bitten by an adder, which children had been swinging above their heads in Challaborough Bay, South Devon.
But despite her attempt to hold the snake so that it could not strike, her finger was bitten. Staff at Challaborough Bay Holiday Park gave her first aid before an ambulance arrived.
Aidan Glover, general manager at the park, said that he has not known of anyone being bitten by a snake in 25 years - until now.
"We're in a heatwave and adders are coming out to play," said Mr Glover. "This lady was trying to do right by taking the adder away from the children. A few people were concerned over the incident, but most carried on sunbathing, quite remarkably."
He added: "In 25 years I have never experienced someone getting bitten by an adder - but in the last three weeks I have had two incidents.
"Adders are quite shy and perfectly fine if you don't touch them, but if you pick them up you can expect a little bite."
While they waited for an ambulance, staff at the holiday park kept the Modbury woman calm and used ice to ensure the bite was cool, to stop the venom from spreading.
She was kept in for observation during the afternoon at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth before being allowed home.
The adder was released unharmed in a farmer's field near the beach.
Western Morning News nature writer Trevor Beer said that less then ten people have been known to die from adder bites over the last century, but those most at risk are children.
This week's snake bite followed a similar incident in Challaborough three weeks ago, when a small boy from South Devon was bitten on the thumb by an adder. He was "quite poorly" and had to be kept in the high dependency unit at Derriford, before he recovered.
Trevor added: "All hibernators like adders are coming out now, stimulated by the warmth.
"Any creature, particularly a venomous and very fast-moving reptile like an adder, will bite if it feels it is being harassed.
"If they are left alone they don't attack. They only attack when they feel they are being persecuted."
Trevor said that adders are fairly common in dry parts of the Westcountry, such as coastal paths and sand dunes.
People suffering from snake bites are usually given antihistamines. Anti-venom is not generally used for adder bites, because of the risk of an allergic reaction.
Adders are small snakes, usually up to 60cm in length. Males tend to be more lightly coloured than females, ranging from dirty yellow to white.
Females are usually much more brown or reddish. Both sexes have a dark zig-zag stripe along the back, and dark bars or bars or blotches along the sides.
Adders feed mainly on small mammals and other reptiles, which are killed using their venom. The prey normally dies within a few minutes.

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