Zigzag viper is the only venomous snake found in Poland. It can be found in very different places – on the sunlit trails, forests, bogs and even in the garden. It rarely attacks a man, but its venom can be dangerous.

The ubiquitous viper

Vipers sleep during winter and crawl out of their burrows only in March. In the spring they get very active. They like sunny and humid places. They can be found throughout the country – they bask on piles of stones or hide in the bushes or in tangle of branches. Before entrances to some areas there are signs warning against contact with these animals. If it is possible, we should avoid them wide berth. Vipers attack only when they feel a threat. The bite is the last resort, e.g. in a situation when they are stepped on. If they have a chance to escape, they do it. Therefore it is worth remembering it while wandering through the forest or meadow and carrying a stick, with which you can “scrape” in the bushes before making a step.

Not to be confused with the grass snake

Zigzag viper is protected. You must not catch it, much less kill. It reaches up to 90 cm in length. The pupil of the eye is vertical. Viper comes in three colours – grey (mostly males), brown or rust-red (female and young) and black (most rarely seen). Their name comes from the characteristic zigzag on the back – from head to tail. You may distinguish it from a grass snake that is not poisonous by its stocky physique and already said zigzag on the back. Grass snakes are dark in colour and on its body there are irregular spots. They also have two yellow (sometimes white) spots on the back of the head. Vipers do not have them.

In the case of a bite

If a viper bites it should be reported to the appropriate medical facility. Do not squeeze or suck the venom. Vipers let in a very small amount of venom (and sometimes bite “dry”) which usually does not threaten human life. As a rule it ends with the painful swelling. The situation is more serious for children and the elderly. They can stand the contact with the viper worse. As part of the treatment the antitoxin of venom of vipers is administered.