PEOPLE visiting Penistone Hill and other moorland areas around Keighley district have been warned to be aware of the presence of adders.

The advice has come from Bradford Council following reported sightings of these rare, reclusive snakes in the Penistone Hill area, outside Haworth.

A spokesman for the council said: “Adders do inhabit sites like Penistone Hill, so it’s entirely possible that they are present – although usually unseen.

“It is probably the weather we’re having that’s brought them out.

“They are generally non-aggressive and will avoid confrontation unless provoked.

“These are a welcome part of the local biodiversity and are generally not a danger.

“But if spotted, we would advise that people stay away and do not let their dog, or any children, harass them.

“We’d ask people to be mindful of them on moorland during this hot spell.”

The message of caution has been echoed by Worth Valley Ward Councillor Chris Herd, who has a farm in Oxenhope close to the edge of the moors.

“I have seen adders occasionally, though they’ve usually been heading in the other direction,” he said.

“This last weekend we’ve been busy mowing and baling so with all the machinery in operation that would have made them stay away.

“But otherwise I’d ask people to stay safe and be aware, even though these kind of snakes would normally avoid people anyway.”

Fellow ward councillor Russell Brown said: “Personally I haven’t seen any adders for years, but it’s possible that this weather means there’s less food around for them and they could also be getting dehydrated.

“I think people should be a bit more careful than usual and should ideally wear trousers and stick to the paths.

“You’d have to be pretty unlucky to get bitten as adders don’t attack without provocation, but there are always exceptions.

“If you have a dog with you, and it starts getting a bit excited about something on the ground, it’s a good idea to get it away from whatever has caught its attention.

“An adder bite could make a dog very ill and could potentially even be fatal.”

The adder feeds on small rodents and is the only venomous snake native to Britain. These snakes will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on.

According to Forestry Commission England, no one has died from an adder bite in Britain for more than 20 years.

With proper treatment, the worst effects from a bite to a person are nausea and drowsiness, followed by severe swelling and bruising near the bite area.

Most adders are marked with a dark zig zag running down the length of the spine and an inverted V shape on the neck.

Adders are protected by law against being killed or injured through human activity.