3 December 2008

Paul O’Grady adder bite – Froglife response

Froglife, a national wildlife charity for amphibians and reptiles, has urged for ‘responsible coverage’ from the media today, when reporting on chat-show host Paul O’Grady’s recent adder bite.

Headlines so far today include ‘Lily Savaged’ (Mirror); ‘Horror Snake Attack’ (Mirror Online); ‘Adder Attack’ (Press Association); and ‘…O’Grady “feared for life”’ (The Telegraph).

“While adder bite should always be taken seriously, the likelihood of being bitten should be kept in proportion and an unnecessary fear of snakes should not spoil our enjoyment of the UK’s wildlife and wild places.” said a Froglife spokesman.

The wildlife charity has called the incident, which saw O’Grady bitten by an adder in his house while moving firewood, an “incredibly unlucky encounter” and sympathises with the popular chat-show host. It is likely the adder had chosen to hibernate within a log, and was disturbed when the log was picked up.

“Human cases of adder-bites tend to occur when adders are disturbed or trapped,” the organisation has today re-iterated.

Although often painful, adder bite is rarely fatal - the last human death in Britain was over thirty years ago. Medical treatment of adder bite is very effective.

Adders are a protected species in the UK – it is illegal to kill or injure any of the UK’s snakes and lizards. Evidence indicates that adders are declining in many parts of the UK.

To read Froglife and the Herpetological Conservation Trust’s joint statement on adder-bites earlier this year see: Low Down on Adders.

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