Adder attack in Highlands leaves dog dead


A DEADLY snake alert has been issued in the Scottish Highlands after a dog died from a poisonous adder bite.

Dog owner, Catherine Cook, was left distraught after “fit and healthy” collie Ben died of kidney failure following the bite.

A bite from Scotland’s only poisonous snake often has mild effects, but can cause kidney failure in children, serious heat effects, coma and even death.

Local children have now been urged to wear wellies and long trousers when walking off road.

Native adders

Venomous adders are native to the UK and residents in Lochaber, Fort William, have reported an increase in sightings this year.

Two adders were discovered in polytunnels in the Kilchoan community gardens and another was found curled up on the doorstep of the Sonachan Hotel near Achosnich in the Ardnamurchan area.

Local hotel owner, Helen MacPhail, said children in the local area had been ordered to wear boots and long trousers when out walking.

Achosnich resident, Catherine Cook, 73, who owned 11-year-old collie-cross Ben, said he was a “very fit and strong dog.”

She believes Ben accidently stood on an adder while she was on a popular walking trail.

Mrs Cook said: “Ben just sat on the path in front of me and lifted his paw up. I thought it was a thorn but I couldn’t see anything so we kept going. He kept limping and when I noticed his leg was visibly swelling, we turned back. I realised at that point it was probably an adder bite.

“The vet was on the peninsula that day and Ben got a shot of steroid there and then. He seemed to be recovering well and was even able to walk again.

“But he collapsed about a week after the bite and couldn’t move. He was in a lot of pain. I took him to the vet in Fort William who confirmed it was kidney failure. I think age played a part although he was a very fit and strong dog.


Last month The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) said it was contacted 196 times between 2009 and 2011 about adder bites.

Director Dr John Thompson said: “The bite can have very nasty effects, especially in smaller children – so it’s best to take care when out walking, wear appropriate footwear for the terrain and do not handle any snakes.”

Walkers have been warned to look out for adders in warmer weather.

NPIS said anyone bitten by an adder should seek urgent medical attention.

Scottish Natural Heritage describes adders as timid and said most bites happened when the snakes were defending themselves.

It said the snakes’ first defence was to try to hide in undergrowth.

Heather Turner, clinic manager at Crown Vets at Fort William, said: “Look out for adders particularly on sunny days in areas of rough ground, bracken and heather. If a bite happens around the head or neck area, this can potentially be life-threatening, and veterinary help should be sought as soon as possible.”


  1. Great care must be taken where Adders are located even in Autumn they can be out basking on sunny days.Also dont take it that an Adder will back off when it feels your footsteps some of them are aggresive and will attack if disturbed. Some people will go into Anaphylatic shock after a bite,read up a bit on the First Aid of this, as I believe their numbers are increasing as I have seen two at close quarters Sept 2012.If bitten always get medical advice.

  2. Walking on Skye in 2009 near Kilbride in the hot July sunshine, the place seemed to be infested with them! One boggy glen, was teeming with frogs, newts, lizards and adders all basking on the rocks! One afternoon, I nearly trod on three along the same path! Whilst other species are in decline, adder populations seem to be exploding!

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