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Black Adder Goes Forth

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A Black Adder

Most adders are distinctively marked with a dark zig-zag running down the length of the spine.  The males are usually pale grey with a black zig-zag.  Female adders are usually pale brown, with a dark brown zig-zag.  The ones in the photos here are melanistic adders.

A Black Adder basking in grass

Black Adders are born with an increased amount of black pigmentation in the body (melanin), but if you look carefully you can still see the slightly darker zig-zag patterns along the spine.

These darker forms occur more frequently in adders than they do in Smooth or Grass Snakes and could have advantages over the standard colour scheme.  It's likely their colour offers better concealment (a cunning plan when hunting), and also their bodies warm up faster when basking.

More info at: UK Safari Adders Fact File

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