Monday, 11 April 2011


Enthusiastic snake-watcher Jonathan Hughes aged ten from near Chelmsford, managed to get some amazing footage of the rarely seen adder dance, when he visited the country park with his dad Dave and Lara on a hot Sunday 10th.
The footage he took with his digital camera can be enjoyed at -;

These two male adders had only just shed their skins, one skin cast off just yesterday and they were obviously determined to wrestle control over this section of hedgerow where a female adder was present. The bigger male was almost as big as a female adder and was in no mood to vacate his patch.

Several times during the day the two brightly-marked males would come together and entwine round each other, wriggling and rolling around on the ground. All the time their heads and necks would try and force the other's head down to the ground, like a version of arm-wrestling. Each wrestling bout would last 2 or 3 minutes either on the track beside us or inside the hedgerow bottom.

Jonathan's patience was rewarded with some great footage which he's kindly shared with us. Even after a small group of us watched the adders dancing with each other on the track, the snakes were so focussed with each other, that we were able to stand motionless and admire them as they performed beside us.

Although much of the description of an "adder dance" highlights the rearing up of the heads, much of the duelling involves lots of writhing, rolling, twisting and sliding around. Jonathan had already filmed the dancing by the time I joined him shortly after mid-day. Later in the afternoon I met up with them again and the adders were still engaging in more bouts of dancing. This time I had my camera and managed this photo above, showing the two heads raised as they moved quickly forward.

The only other time I have seen two males dancing was a brief display along the seawall about 8 years ago. That one was nowhere near as showy as this performance which took place right in front of us and repeated several times over during the afternoon.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, those adders. Jan

jonathan hughes said...

Dougal this is jonathan hughes and i wanted to say thank you for putting my photos up on your page and putting a link to my video


Dougal Urquhart said...

Most of the time the adders don't do very much Jan except sun-bathe but it's still great seeing them.

Even better if you're lucky enough to film the adders dancing! Thanks Jonathan for sharing the footage of the adders dancing.