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Zigzag pit vipers. “When we see them, let's move away and leave them alone.”

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The warm beginning of April means that on the Tatra trails we can come across the only venomous species of snake in Poland, the adder. The venom can be dangerous to children, the elderly or allergic people, so if you are bitten, always call for help.

When walking along the Tatra trails, it is worth watching your feet, because you may come across a pit viper.

– When we see them, let's move away and leave them alone – said Tomasz Zając, a naturalist and educator of the Tatra National Park. – In spring, after a cool night, adders often bask in sunny places in the morning. They are found right next to trails, on stones, grasslands, and often near benches. At this time, they are often lethargic and slow, which increases the likelihood of humans stepping on them and, consequently, being bitten, he added.

The Tatra National Park services reported that on Monday one of the snakes was observed by a forester just off the road to Morskie Oko.

What to do after being bitten by a viper?

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As the naturalist emphasizes, the venom of the pit viper may be dangerous for children, the elderly or allergic people, so when bitten, you should always call for help. In the mountains you should call TOPR, and in the lowlands – an ambulance. The naturalist advises that a person bitten by a viper should stay still, as this will slow down the spread of the toxin in the body. You should not suck out the venom, but wait calmly for help to arrive.

– Not every bite involves the injection of venom. In about 30 percent of cases, we deal with dry bites, i.e. without venom injection, although they leave a characteristic mark, i.e. two dots about a centimeter apart – explains the naturalist.

It's usually a human being who's to blame

Tragic accidents related to viper bites occur occasionally. According to statistics, one percent of bites result in death. Incidents of viper bites are generally caused by human carelessness or recklessness.

Zigzag adder (Viper berus)) can reach up to a meter in length. It feeds mainly on small mammals and rodents. The mating season of these reptiles falls at the turn of April and May. Females lay up to 15 eggs.

Lightning dance

The zigzag adder has a characteristic zigzag on its back, which makes it relatively easy to recognize. In the Tatra Mountains, there is also a black melanistic variety, in which the zigzag is barely visible. In April and May, we can sometimes observe the spectacular phenomenon of mating vipers. Then the male fights resemble a dance. Herpetologists, i.e. scientists dealing with this group of animals, call this phenomenon the lightning dance.

– During fights, males do not use their venomous teeth, they try to press the opponent to the ground. It is a fight of attrition. The larger individual usually wins. There is usually a female in the vicinity of such a duel. It differs from males in its subdued brown color. It also reaches larger sizes than males. Vipers are not aggressive and do not chase humans, explains Zając.

Zigzag viper – what does it look like?PAP

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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