A POOLE mum has warned parents to be on their guard after an adder bite put her 10-year-old daughter in hospital for six days.
Little Mollie Hawker was out on a walk with her family at Turbary Common, Bournemouth, when the snake bit her toe - causing a severe reaction doctors described as "the worst they'd ever seen".
Now her mum Karen, of Wallisdown, has warned other parents after discovering her actions could have made things worse.
Mollie kept on walking after she'd been bitten, before the pain became so bad she had to be carried. And at home Karen raised her leg to try to reduce the swelling. Both things helped spread the poison.
She said: "Parents need to know these things. The doctors were really concerned at how far she'd walked and that we'd raised her leg. It wasn't until I called NHS Direct that I realised."
Mollie was rushed to Poole Hospital. By then her pain was so intense they had to put her on intravenous morphine.
Karen added: "Her leg was swelling so much. It started off red, then went black and purple - it was bruised from her foot all the way up to the top of her leg. It was twice or three times the normal size - about as swollen as it could be without splitting the skin.
"She has a blackened blister where the snake pierced her skin that looks awful. I didn't realise snakes around here could do so much damage."
Mollie was placed on a heart monitor in the high dependency unit. She was given antibiotics and morphine, and her leg was kept below her heart to stop the poison pumping all over her body.
Karen added: "The doctors only see an adder bite once or twice a year and said they'd never seen one quite so severe. A medical photographer came to take photos so they had something to refer to if it happened again."
She added: "In a way it was lucky it was Mollie and not my two-year-old son that was bitten. Having seen the damage it did to a 10-year-old, with him it could have been a whole heap worse. He was right behind her when it happened."
Mum-of-three Karen stayed by her daughter's side throughout the ordeal and Mollie is now back at home on crutches.
John Wilkinson, an officer at the Boscombe-based Herpetological Conservation Trust, which manages habitats at 40 Dorset nature reserves, said adder bites were extremely rare, especially at this time of year.
He added: "Snake bites in general and adder bites are very uncommon, and a severe reaction is extremely uncommon. The byword is caution.
"If a small girl is quietly tripping along she probably wasn't making enough noise to disturb the snake. Snakes will always shoot off rather than confront a person."