Highlands on snake alert after adder bite kills dog
A DEADLY snake warning has been issued in the Highlands after a dog died from a poisonous adder bite.
Cross-bred collie Ben was one of three dogs known to have been bitten by Scotland’s only venomous snake in a remote part of Lochaber.
He died of kidney failure a week after the incident.
His owner Catherine Cook, 73, said her 11-year-old pet had been “fit and strong” before he was bitten after accidentally stepping on the snake.
Adders are native to the UK and can grow up to three feet long. Residents in Lochaber have reported an increased numbers of sightings this year.
Mrs Cook, of Achosnich, on the Ardnamurchan Peninsular, said she had been out walking her two dogs when she noticed Ben was in pain.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Helen MacPhail, who owns the Sonachan Hotel, near Achosnich, said: “There have been a lot of adders in the area this year. Ben was one of three dogs that have been bitten recently. The others were younger and survived.
“When we were younger we were told to always wear long trousers and wellies and I have been telling my ten-year-old the same thing.”
Two adders were discovered in polytunnels in the nearby Kilchoan community gardens and another was found curled up on the doorstep of the Sonachan Hotel.
Last month the National Poisons Information Service 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.
Scottish Natural Heritage describes adders as timid and said most bites occurred when the snakes were defending themselves.
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.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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