Keeping Safe



Many species of British wildlife, including the adder, come out of hibernation in the Spring. Keep your eyes peeled while walking on the Commons and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of of this often misunderstood but beautiful and interesting creature.

The adder is the only British venomous snake, however it is not considered to be particularly dangerous. Unfortunately dogs are the animals most likely to be bitten due to their natural curiosity and need to stick their noses into everything! But adder bites are rarely fatal. To keep you and your pet safe follow these simple tips...

  • Keep to the paths - snakes tend to live in the undergrowth.
  • Use a short lead on South facing slopes in Summer.
  • If you encounter an adder - leave it alone - give it the opportunity to escape to safety.

The Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust have produced a helpful Dogs and Adders leaflet for dog owners. The leaflet gives good advice on identifying adders and what to do if your pet does get bitten.

Enjoy your walks and REMEMBER that bites are rarely fatal but must be treated by a vet as soon as possible.

The 24 hour telephone number for Torbridge Vet Group Torrington Surgery is 01805 622100.

Adders are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to kill, harm or injure them, and to sell or trade them in any way.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

What is Lyme disease and what are its symptoms?

Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected tick and causes a wide range of symptoms which may include a circular red "bull's eye" rash, headaches, a stiff neck, facial palsy, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and disturbances of sight, hearing, coordination, digestive system and sleep.

Where are ticks found?

Ticks can be found all over the UK in gardens, woods, moors, and parks - even London parks are no exception! They are certainly found on Torrington Commons. NOT ALL ticks carry Lyme disease. Infection rates in tick populations vary by tick species and region.

How should a tick be removed?

Ticks should be removed as soon as possible with a tick removal tool which hooks underneath the tick and does not risk squashing it. In an emergency a thread of cotton can be wound round close to the skin and pulled upwards. Disinfect the area around the bite using antiseptic cream. DO NOT try to pull the tick out with your fingers, burn the tick or cover it with creams or chemicals. Eyebrow tweezers are NOT suitable.

Can Lyme disease be prevented?

There are many measures that can be taken to protect from infection. These include wearing light coloured clothing, keeping arms and legs covered, and frequently checking the skin for ticks - especially around the hairline of children. Make sure you remove any ticks as soon as possible and seek medical advice promptly if any symptoms appear.


Dogs often pick up ticks, especially if they go into the long grass, and they can become infected too. Follow the same method of removal as given above, and take to the vets if any symptoms appear. Always ensure your dog's flea and tick treatment is up to date.

More advice can be found in this leaflet from