LG columnist Claire Kane gets a nasty surpriseSeptember, 2014
Diving into a viper's nest... without knowing it!
Adders are one of the most fascinating and feared creatures in the UK and even the mere mention of them can make grown men shiver.
Adders love golf courses and, like many golfers, when spring arrives, they surface from hibernation. Female adders (brown markings as opposed to the males, who have black patterns) give birth to up to 20 fully-formed vipers, including ready-made fangs and potent venom, in late summer.
The babies fend for themselves within days to eat as much as possible before winter hibernation.
Thankfully, females don’t usually reproduce every year!
Just as well I had no idea as I’d have probably have had a heart attack on the spot. So, how do I know all this? Well, I was recently bitten by an adder while playing golf, although horrifyingly I didn’t realise it at the time. Having said that, I was knee deep in gorse and assumed it was the spiky stuff springing back from my shot that speared me in the back of my leg rather than two fangs imbedding like a heat-seeking missile. Just as well I had no idea as I’d have probably have had a heart attack on the spot.
Having been bitten, I broke all the rules. I raced up the fairway, adrenaline in full flow as my partner and I battled to recover from dormie two down whereas it’s important to remain calm and inactive and go straight to hospital. When I felt unwell in the clubhouse, I put it down to the hot weather and relaxed with a glass of wine. When my leg became swollen, overwhelmingly itchy and red and black looking, I failed to spot the puncture marks and treated myself at home with iodine. And when I unusually had an upset tummy the following day I just put it down to something I’d eaten.
When I finally twigged what had happened I rang my doctor who ran a series of tests, including an ECG as venom can affect the heart. Thankfully the results were remarkably good.
Now I understand why some clubs insist men wear long socks and, from now on, I’m definitely wearing long trousers regardless of the temperature. Naturally I immediately went shopping for a new pair of trousers (viper protectors) and was thrilled to find a lightweight pair in a neutral colour, although I winced when I noticed they came with a snakeskin belt.
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