South Scotland MSP Martin Whitfield has agreed to become a Nature Champion for Scotland’s adders, the only venomous snakes found in Scotland or the UK.

The adder, which rarely exceeds 60cm in length, has a zig-zag pattern down its back and can be found around patches of woodland and on heathland. They are widespread throughout Scotland, including many parts of East Lothian, but their numbers have been in steep decline over recent years.

The Nature Champion initiative is run by Scottish Environment LINK and sees MSPs allocated threatened species and priority habitats to support and champion as part of their parliamentary and constituency duties.

Speaking about his new role, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“Having always taken a keen interest in nature and wildlife, I’m delighted to become a Nature Champion for Scotland’s adder. They’re well known as the UK’s only venomous snake, but it’s perhaps less well known that their numbers have been in serious decline over recent years. I’m pleased to make this commitment to champion adders and hopefully contribute to the protection of this special creature in Scotland.”

Kathy Wormald, CEO of Froglife Trust said:

“It is fantastic to have an MSP who is championing the adder. We have in the past struggled to find an MSP who is willing to champion the adder.  They certainly do need championing as for too long Scottish adders have been over-looked. We must now put their conservation needs at the forefront and know that Martin will be able to help us do this.”

Threats to the adder include development and agricultural intensification, loss of habitat, human persecution and increased human disturbance, loss of suitable habitat due to inappropriate management practices and afforestation.

Action needed to protect the species includes better habitat management to create and restore habitats to suitable conditions, improvements in planning processes to take better account of adder presence at early stages, support for increased surveying and monitoring and full implementation of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

For further information about the Holyrood Nature Champion initiative, visit