Adder bite causes young boy's hand to swell up 'FIVE times its size'
11th April 2022

Adder bite causes eight-year-old boy’s hand to swell up ‘FIVE times its size’: Youngster is rushed to hospitals after snake attack on Norfolk beach

  • Jake Closier, 8, rushed to hospital after a snake bite made his hand balloon up 
  • The boy stumbled upon an adder, the UK’s only venomous snake, in Norfolk
  • His mum, who has owned snakes, was unaware dangerous ones were in the UK

An eight-year-old boy was rushed to hospital after an adder bite caused his hand to swell up ‘five times the normal size’.

Jake Closier was on a day trip to the beach when he was attacked by the venomous snake.

He was with dad Kenny, 33, and mum Sophie, 32, at popular beauty spot Hemsby beach in Norfolk, when the snake launched at him while he played in the sand dunes.

Sophie initially thought the bite was from a harmless grass snake but realised something was wrong when Jake’s hand went ‘completely hard’.

Sophie, from Camden Town, London, said: ‘We were talking a family walk along the beach to look for the seals and were heading towards Winterton.

‘My son was running around on the beach in the sand dunes and he fell over and was bit by the venomous snake.

‘He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

Jake Closier, 8, had his hand bitten (pictured) by an adder on a Norfolk beach causing it to swell up to nearly ‘five times the normal size’ 

Jake (pictured) has been left traumatised after a snake bit his hand, his mum was worried he might’ve died

Jake’s mum Sophie took a picture of the adder (pictured) that bit her son’s hand to show to the doctors

She continued: ‘I wasn’t aware that there were any venomous snakes in the UK that were wild. There were no warning signs on the beach or sand dunes.

How to spot an adder

An adult female adder, also known as the European viper

The adder is the UK’s only venomous snake, so you may want to know how to spot one.

It is a relatively small, stocky snake that prefers woodland, heathland and moorland habitats.

They can be identified by their greyish colour if male and reddish-brown colour if female.

Adders have a dark and very distinct zig-zag pattern down its back, and red eyes.

Adders hibernate from October, emerging in the first warm days of March, which is the easiest time of year to find them.

‘I noticed that my son had been bitten and managed to take a quick snap of it on my phone.

‘I’ve had domestic snakes before and I have been bitten several times by non-venomous snakes when they were babies. It is nothing worse than a hamster bite.

‘My first thought was that he has been bitten by a grass snake, so we walked to a medical centre in case he needed a tetanus jab.

‘Within about 30 seconds, I checked his finger and it went completely hard and I could see a puncture wound.

‘I googled what the snakes were in Norfolk and straight away it said there were adders in the area.

‘That’s when I panicked because it finally clicked what type of snake had bitten Jake.

‘We ran away from the sand dunes and knocked on resident’s door so we could get an address for the ambulance.

‘At this point, I did not know how serious the bite was.

‘Luckily, a man drove us to the hospital as we were told we’d be waiting eight hours for an ambulance.’

Jake was rushed to James Paget University Hospital in Great Yarmouth after last Tuesday’s bite where doctors inserted an anti-venom drip into his veins.

His mum was worried that her son, who was throwing up from the venom, could end up going into anaphylactic shock.

Jake had to have an X-ray to make sure there were no snake teeth left in his hand

Sophie added: ‘We had to hospital within half-an-hour, by this time his hand had swelled to about five times the size of a normal hand

What to do if you are bitten by an adder

Around 100 people get bitten by adders in Britain every year, but no one has died from one since 1975. 

The adder is not normally a danger to humans, except to very young, ill or old.

It is more likely to slither way than bite a human, unless trodden on or picked up.

If bitten, medical attention should be sought immediately 

The worst effects of the snake’s bite are normally nausea and drowsiness, severe swelling and bruising around the bite.

For some a snake bite can trigger a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.

‘His hand was the swelled and hard, we thought it was going to burst. The puncture wound was black. He was vomiting and sweating.

‘The venom had shrunk his veins so they couldn’t get the anti-venom into him properly. They somehow managed to get it in him within the hour.

‘He was on the anti-venom for an hour and then had to have a flush and was on hourly observations for his heart rate, breathing and circulation.

‘He had to have regular ECG scans too. He even had to have X-rays to check there were no snake teeth left in his fingers.’

After being observed for 24 hours, Jake was allowed to return home but is now suffering from ‘constant nightmares’ and refuses to walk on grass.

Sophie said that people should be ‘aware of the threat’ of venomous snakes.

Adders are the only venomous snake in England and it remains rare for them to bite people, according to the Woodland Trust.

Sophie added: ‘Jake could have died from it. It was so scary.

‘The following day, the venom had already gone through his body so we had got over the risk of him losing his life.

‘There was still a danger he could have lost his fingers, hand or arm because he developed fluid retention in the tissue.

‘His was in so much pain after they tried to stop the poison getting to the heart. That took about four days to go.

‘We just want to warn people about adders when they are on sand dunes. Just look what can happen.’

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