The Darwin Awards feature Scottish snakes

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

Oh dear, where’s St Patrick when you need him? Isn’t he done over in Ireland yet? It seems that in 2005 an unfortunate hillwalker called Robert McGuire was bitten by two adders while holidaying on the Isle of Arran. He spent six days in hospital. Pretty unusual – although the adder is the only snake found in Scotland it’s not particularly common. Even when encountered, adders usually flee and very rarely bite. And even when they do, the bite even more rarely causes an adverse reaction. And as for two snakes… well, what are the chances?

An adder (photo: Hammond Eggs)

However, perhaps this incident wasn’t as odd as it first seems, once you read the full story as recounted by the Darwin Awards. To give you an idea:

Mr McGuire described the moment he was bitten. “I was out for a walk with my brother Steve and his kids. We were going off to have a picnic at a local beauty spot. “The next minute, one of the kids ran up and said there was a snake in the grass. I just thought it was a grass snake. “I just bent down to pick it up so my brother could take a photo with his mobile phone. Suddenly a massive black snake just appeared, so I picked that up too. It was then that the second one just sank his fangs right into my hand and then the other one did the same to my other hand.” Mr McGuire told The Scotsman that he had not been particularly concerned about picking up the reptiles as he did not believe there were venomous snakes in Scotland.

Well, fancy. Imagine those nasty snakes being cruel enough to bite him. And poor Mr McGuire is undoubtedly regretting the woeful state of his knowledge of UK snake populations. He’s probably had plenty of advice about herptile distribution now, so perhaps the Ranger won’t further add to the poor fellow’s troubles, except, of course, by drawing your attention to them!

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

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