Two gardeners at Britwell's Cowper Road allotments have been bitten by poisonous adder snakes this year. One had a lucky escape because he was wearing gloves. The other had an adverse reaction and spent the night in hospital.
The allotments, on the east side of Kennedy Park, are occasionally targeted by thieves and vandals who break down the western boundary fence adjoining Kennedy Park.
Since Slough Council erected its 'Adder Alert' signs thieves and vandals have stayed away.
Allotment holders have been unhappy for years with Slough Council's refusal to erect 8 feet high (2.5m) palisade steel fencing on the Kennedy Park side to deter thieves and vandals.
We have always been neglected by the council who don't seem to
one gardener told the Slough Times.
Since the outbreak of adder bites, gardeners on the 42 plot site have regularly seen adders in the allotment and also in Kennedy Park.
Adders are a poisonous snake and an endangered species protected by law. The snakes will attack people if they think they are being threatened. The public should carefully avoid snakes whenever they see them.
Residents say the council's signs are unclear, partly because some of the wording is covered by the wire fence, and the safety notices should be placed outside the fencing for better visibility.
The council's advice
'Adders are .... venomous'
'Contact Wexham Park Hospital on: 01753 663000'
is second rate. The majority of people understand 'poisonous' but fewer people understand what 'venomous' means, explained a local resident who has worked as an Accident & Emergency consultant at Wexham Park Hospital.
The doctor said:-
Someone bitten by a snake thought to be poisonous should
go straight to hospital. Don't waste time finding a telephone and then ringing
a busy hospital switchboard, get to hospital straight away. And get someone else
to drive you in case you feel dizzy.
Slough Council bosses, despite working just two miles away from a major
internationally known hospital, told their junior staff to 'Google' the
Internet for medical advice.
Ring the hospital was the best advice the
council could find on the Internet.
The Slough Times asked the local hospital what advice it would give to the public bitten by an adder. This is what the hospital replied:-
All patients who have been bitten by a venomous snake should
be reassured and rapidly transported to hospital, preferably in the recovery
position with the envenomed limb immobilised.
Three species of snake are native to the mainland UK:
A legless lizard, the slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is often
mistaken for a snake but has closable eyelids and a friable tail. Only Vipera
berus (adder or viper) is venomous. It occurs throughout mainland Britain.
The Slough Times found it quick and easy to get medical advice from Wexham Park Hospital. We wonder why Slough Council did not do the same.
The Forestry Commission's web site gives this advice:-
"Adders have the most highly developed venom injecting mechanism of all snakes, but they are not aggressive animals. Adders will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on."
"With proper (medical) treatment, the worst effects are nausea and drowsiness, followed by severe swelling and bruising in the area of the bite. Most people who are bitten were handling the snake."
"Treat adders with respect and leave them alone."
http://www.crislis.co.uk/adder/about_adders.htm http://www.new-forest-national-park.com/adder-fact-file.html http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Snake-Bites.htm