DOG owners are being urged to take care as venomous snakes have been spotted in west Cumbria.

Adders have been regular residents in Seascale over the last few years but have now been sighted on a coastal footpath popular with dog-walkers.

An adder was seen 'sunning itself' just off the footpath between Nethertown and Coulderton in Egremont.

And a dog has also recently been treated by The Vet in Whitehaven after being bitten on the face by an adder at Seascale beach.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is calling on people to keep away from the snakes to avoid coming to any harm.  

David Harpley, director of Nature Recovery at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, said: "The adder is the UK's only venomous snake, but its venom is generally of little danger to humans.

“An adder bite can be painful and cause inflammation, but is really only dangerous to the very young, ill or old. If bitten, medical attention should be sought.

“Adders are secretive animals and prefer to slither off into the undergrowth rather than confront and bite humans and domestic animals; most attacks happen when they are trodden on or picked up.

“Adders may be seen most at this time of year as they are cold-blooded and when they come out of hibernation, they need to bask in the sunshine. This is so they can get their body temperature up before they can get on with mating and hunting for food.

“Later on in the year when it is warmer, they don't need to bask as much.

“The number of people bitten each year in Britain is tiny. If you see one just leave it alone, that way you will not come to any harm."

Adders are one of just three species of snake found in the UK. They have a distinctive zig-zag pattern along their back and are the UK’s only venomous snake.

The Vet Whitehaven has advised dog owners to avoid areas well known for adders in the summer months (especially June-Aug) or when in those areas, keep dogs on a path and on a lead.

Adders are most commonly found in long grass, woodland, moorland, and along the coast (sand dunes/coastal paths).

Anyone who suspects their dog to have been bitten by an adder is advised to seek veterinary treatment immediately. It should always be treated as an emergency.

Leave the bite alone, don't apply a bandage or tourniquet.

If you are able to, carry your dog to reduce the spread of venom. Try to keep your pet warm and quiet as you travel to the vets.

An adder bite will usually occur on the legs or face of a pet.

Signs to look out for are localised swelling, which usually occurs within two hours of the bite happening, sometimes two puncture bites can be seen at the site of the swelling.

Pets might also show signs of pain, bleeding, bruising and lameness.

If the adder venom is absorbed into the rest of the body it can cause a widespread inflammatory reaction leading to symptoms such as lethargy, fever, increased heart and respiratory rates, drooling, vomiting/diarrhea and a wobbly gait.