Man Bitten by Snake at Kent Country Park

21 July 2010, 10:56 | Updated: 21 July 2010, 11:15

A man's been rushed to hospital after being bitten by what's thought to have been an adder at Riverside Country Park in Rainham.

It happened as the 36 year-old tried to move the foot-long black snake from a path during a walk with his family on Sunday.

It's reported he was left fighting for breath just minutes after being bitten and his hand had doubled in size, and was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital in a critical condition.

Matthew Popov, from Frindsbury, near Strood, told the Daily Mirror: "I tried to pick the snake up but it was quicker than me and bit me on the finger.

"I thought it may have been an adder, but I didn't know they could be so dangerous, or they could kill you.''

In a statement, Dr Alexsander Tsolov and Dr Baktiar Ali, of Medway Maritime Hospital, said: "Snake bites are rare in this country but we have to be prepared.

"Mr Popov was in a critical condition when he arrived and we had to work quickly to stabilise him. We gave him all the required medication and an antidote.

"We work hard in the emergency department for all our patients and we are pleased to hear that Mr Popov is doing well and we are grateful for his thanks.''

A Medway Council spokesman said: "We are very pleased to hear that this man has made a full recovery.

"The number of adders at Riverside Country Park is not particularly high, and is not above what you would expect to find at any other large open space of land.

"Adders - which are a protected species - are placid, retiring creatures that try to avoid human contact.

"We would advise people who are not trained to deal with snakes not to pick them up or attempt to move them. They should inform a ranger if they are concerned about anything.''

The adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain but no one has died here from a bite for more than 20 years, according to the Forestry Commission.

They have the most highly developed venom-injecting mechanism of all snakes, but they are not deemed to be aggressive animals.

Adders will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on.

The commission's advice is to ``treat adders with respect and leave them alone''.