A WOMAN who says she moved to Gwent because she was certain she’d never come into contact with a snake was given the fright of her life when she almost stepped on one during a walk.

Ann Mitchell, from South Africa, says she moved to Gwent almost 14 years ago, saying a “big reason” she moved to the area was because she was convinced there were no snakes.

But while walking her dog along the canal by Sglods takeaway in Risca on Monday, she says she got a “huge fright” when a snake greeted her in the middle of the path.

South Wales Argus: Grass snake by the canal in Risca

Grass snake by the canal in Risca

“I think I was about halfway to the first bridge when I saw it,” she said. “I almost stood on it because I wasn’t really concentrating, and I got a huge fright.

“I’m from South Africa and we have loads of snakes there, and I’m terrified of them. This is the first time I’ve seen one in my 14 years in the UK.

“My heart was racing and I felt like running.

“I took the photo because I didn’t think people would believe me. Then I walked really fast back to my car still shaking.

“In South Africa we have snakes fall out of trees.

“A big reason I chose to move here was because I thought there were no snakes.

“I looked into a few countries when we were looking to move, and I really didn’t think there were snakes here.”


Ms Mitchell says despite her ordeal, she is pleased she now knows more about grass snakes and adders in the UK. She says she’s been surprised by the reaction her posts on the sighting garnered on social media.

“I’ve now been told to be careful this time of year with my dog,” she said. “If she is bitten by an adder I now know I should carry her as the venom can spread around the body as they move. So I learned something new from my freak-out yesterday.

“It’s funny how different the reactions have been. Some are saying they will no longer walk by the canal. Others are saying how awesome it is!”

Ms Mitchell actually had nothing to be scared about on this occasion. The snake she saw was a grass snake - common around wetland areas in the spring and not dangerous to humans or pets.

But other possible snake sightings in the region could be more worrying.

South Wales Argus: An adder spotted in Caerphilly last spring. Picture: South Wales Argus Camera Club member Garedd Preece

An adder spotted in Caerphilly last spring. Picture: South Wales Argus Camera Club member Garedd Preece

Is it unusual to see a snake in the UK?

During this time of year, it isn’t hugely rare to see an adder or a grass snake in the UK – particularly near sand dunes for adders between April and July, and wetlands for grass snakes from April to October.

Adult adders are roughly 50 to 60cm long, and have black and brown patterns along their back.

Adult grass snakes are 90 to 150cm long and are usually green.

Adder bites are rare, and they are more likely to bite an inquisitive dog than a human.

Grass snakes are harmless, usually playing dead when they feel threatened, rather than biting.

South Wales Argus: A snake in Allt-yr-yn in 2019. Picture: Sian Wilson-Peake

A snake in Allt-yr-yn in 2019. Picture: Sian Wilson-Peake

Is an adder bite dangerous?

The NHS advises that if you think you have been bitten by a snake, you should call 999 or go to A&E immediately. It says you should stay calm, as most snake bites in the UK are not serious and can be treated, and to keep the part of your body that was bitten as still as you can.

Vets4Pets explains how adder bites in pets can result in swelling around the wound, usually within two hours, sometimes which can be severe.

If you find your pet has been bitten, the pet service says you should seek veterinary attention, and carry your dog to try and reduce the spread of venom around the body. You should bathe the wound in cold water to help control the swelling.