THE first major colour book that gets up close with Britain’s only venomous snake has been written by a north Lancashire man.

Rodger McPhail, of Arkholme, has been spying on his fanged friends for about five years on a stretch of moorland in the Trough of Bowland.

The wildlife artist noticed the snakes four years ago while out trekking on the remote fells.

He says he has taken ‘millions’ of pictures in total, a selection of which can be found in his book, The Private Life Of Adders.

Photographs include their mating and fighting rituals, as well as photographs of them eating their prey.

All the photographs have been taken in the same quarter of a square mile he has been studying, and he thinks there are between 25 and 30 adults in the area.

Snakes in general have had a bad reputation from as long ago as Biblical times.

But Mr McPhail, 58, thinks that it is an unfair tag. He said: “I’ve always really liked snakes so I started studying and taking photographs of them.

“Whenever the conditions were right, I’d spend time up on the moors, even if it was only half an hour.

“This has been a labour of love. I must have taken millions of photos but I wanted more than them just sitting there, basking.

“I realised about two years ago that I’d probably got pictures of them doing just about everything.”

During his forays into the moors he said that he found adders beaten to death on one or two occasions, something he was keen for people to avoid.

“I’m sure people would think they are doing a public duty, or maybe they’re worried about their dogs, which you can understand.

"But adders are not that common so I think we need to do our bit to protect this beautiful creature.”

The book costs £14.99, and is published by Merlin Unwin Books.