Beauty is Skin Deep (for an adder)

At some point over the weekend, or even this morning, the adders have started to shed their skins. I found three this morning in the favourite basking spots, looking like limp, empty adder stockings. Adders shed from the head back, including the scale over the eye (see previous blogs for pics) and the skin often winds up crumpled, just like when you unpeel stockings, or rubber gloves or anything else tight fitting.

Newly shed adder skin

Newly shed adder skin

Here are some of the skins. One was too crumpled to straighten out but, with a bit of care, the others could be. In the close up, you can see the clear scale that covers the eye.

Adder skins. Ruler is 30 cm

Adder skins. Ruler is 30 cm

head end of shed adder skin.

head end of shed adder skin.

I’m not sure if this skin belongs to the snake behind it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. It’s huge, and so is the snake. I suspect it may be the same adder as the one in last weeks “big adder” picture, before and after shedding.

Shed adder skin in foreground, and probably the snake itself in the background

Shed adder skin in foreground, and its likely original owner in the background

This large adder may well be the same one featured last week, before and after shedding skin

This large adder may well be the same one featured last week, before and after shedding skin

The original owners of the skins now look utterly spectacular. They look like they’ve been freshly enamelled in the April sun, the colours really glow.

Newly shed adder

Newly shed adder

 

Another newly- shed male

Another newly- shed male

A newly -shed male basking in the sun

A newly -shed male basking in the sun

Many of the males are a lovely bluish-grey colour, with the black zig-zag proudly standing out on the back, but they vary hugely in colour. I think this very dark snake is a male, and has shed its skin, but is a warm deep brown colour rather than bluish-grey.

There is a huge variety in the colour of adders

There is a huge variety in the colour of adders

A darkly -coloured adder

Here’s looking at you….

Once the adders have shed, they are ready to mate. The big fella already seems to have found a lady friend, which isn’t surprising, as he’s the biggest snake around and could see off the competition. It was a bit too cold this morning for anything much other than basking, but the adders will mate very soon. Check out this video for some amorous adder here last year http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbGq7KYzE3k

Amorous adders? A bit cold this morning but after shedding their skins, adders are ready to mate.

Amorous adders? A bit cold this morning but after shedding their skins, adders are ready to mate.

...and a close up.

…and a close up.

After they mate, they want to eat. So those lizards better watch out!

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