A new study is helping the Forestry Commission plan a brighter future for the increasingly rare adder in the North York Moors.
The creature is one of the world’s most studied snakes, but mysteries still remain, especially why it is found in some areas, but not others.
Reptile expert James Stroud, 25, pulled on his walking boots and set out to shed light on the subject.
Working with forest rangers he delved into the creature’s secret world in Dalby and Langdale Forests, near Pickering, and Harwood Dale, Wykeham and Broxa Forests, near Scarborough.
Adders are thought to be on the decline due to habitat loss, but the Forestry Commission’s North Yorkshire woods are a stronghold.
As part of his Master’s Degree at the University of Hull’s Scarborough Campus, Mr Stroud probed why the snake preferred some areas over others.
Mr Stroud, originally from Amersham, in Buckinghamshire, said: “Young forest plantations are an important refuge, offering a place to bask and with shelter from potential predators.
“My data suggests that linking together such areas could be a real help to adder populations. That would allow them to spread more easily and not become isolated by denser forestry, which is not such a good snake habitat.”