Don't worry if you see these metre-long snakes in Milton Keynes, say experts

People keep thinking they’ve seen an adder
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To celebrate this week’s World Snake Day, the Parks Trust has published photos of the snakes that can be found in parks around the city.

And, even though some of them are more than a metre long, the experts have urged people not be be scared if they spot one.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “Every year, The Parks Trust receives reports from members of the Milton Keynes public who report sightings of what they believe are adders in our parks.

This grass snake was spotted in an MK parkThis grass snake was spotted in an MK park
This grass snake was spotted in an MK park

"Usually, these reports come from people who are concerned for the safety of their young children or pets and fear that they may get bitten. In the city, we only have two reptile species which could be mistaken for an adder (the UK's only venomous snake).”

The most common in MK is the grass snake, and this one was pictured by the Parks Trust locally.

The species is the UK’s largest snake and by far the most common in most of England.

"Snakes of one metre or more in length are not unusual, so they can look quite alarming. However, grass snakes are non-venomous and in fact lack teeth of any kind.” said the Trust spokesperson.

Slow-worms like this have been spotted in certain area of Milton KeynesSlow-worms like this have been spotted in certain area of Milton Keynes
Slow-worms like this have been spotted in certain area of Milton Keynes

"They have a bright yellow ring or collar behind the head and are otherwise and olive-green colour with dark markings. They are usually found fairly close to the water and swim well.”

Grass snakes hunt frogs, toads and other small creatures but are scared of humans and will usually rush for safety at the first sound of people approaching. They can grow to two metres in length but this is rare.

Another type of reptile found in Milton Keynes is the slow-worm, which looks like a snake but is in fact a lizard which lacks any limbs.

Slow-worms are quite small and shy creatures and are rare in Milton Keynes, with a few small populations known from Stony Stratford, Wolverton and Bletchley. They are a uniform brown or bronze colour without any clear markings.

To ease the mind of those people with a fear of snakes, no dangerous species have ever been found in the wild in MK – though there is some in nearby Bedfordshire.

"Thorough surveys of reptiles have been carried out by The Parks Trust and other bodies in Milton Keynes over the years. No adders have ever been found. The nearest known populations are in Bedfordshire,” said the Trust spokesperson.

"The adder is a very distinctive-looking creature, quite thick-bodied for a snake and with a dark zig-zag pattern all the way down its back.”

They added: “Please remember that all reptiles are timid creatures and will do all they can to avoid people. All UK reptiles are protected by law, and it is an offence to kill them.

"It is upsetting that many are destroyed each year even though they can do us no harm. If you are lucky enough to see a grass snake or a slow-worm in Milton Keynes, enjoy it from a distance and see if you can identify them.”