Inge knows that her friend Else always tells the truth. She shudders a little. But she has another question. But Else says "Shh" and points to the snake. The girls are quiet and hold their breath.
A little mouse is near the snake, sniffing for food. When the snake notices the mouse, it is suddenly transformed. It raises its head in the air. The eyes, formerly so dull, become bright. The snake's body tenses. The adder's tongue flits quickly in its half-open mouth. Suddenly its body quivers. With amazing speed the head darts forward. The jaw opens and the teeth sink into the body of the little mouse. The poison enters the blood of the startled animal. A few seconds later the mouse lies dead on the ground. The adder opens its mouth and swallows its victim whole. Then it glides slowly and wearily back and disappears into the bushes.
The girls watch for a long time. Then they leap from their hammocks and run as fast as they can into the farm house.
"What is the matter with you?", Else's father asks the two children. Excitedly they tell him the story. The farmer says nothing and listens quietly as the children get the story out. Then he reaches for his pipe and lights it.
"Sit down, children," he says. "I will explain it all to you."
"Now, listen children! You really have seen an adder. It is poisonous, as dangerous for animals as for people. As long as there is no victim in the area, it looks peaceful and harmless. I can easily understand why Inge believed that it was not dangerous. But remember this: never trust a snake! From the moment it sees a victim, it shows its true nature. It pitilessly attacks the unsuspecting animal. Its fangs poison its victim's blood."
"Yes, the poor little mouse died right away," the two children say.
"That's right," says the farmer, taking a big puff on his pipe. He continues:
"When people are bitten by a poisonous snake, they do not die so fast. At first, their body gradually tires. Their strength declines. They become dizzy. The blood pressure changes. They start bleeding heavily from the mouth, nose and ears. Some of those who are bitten become unconscious, but most suffer terrible pain for a long time before they die."
"That's terrible!', Inge from Berlin says. This is the first time she has seen a poisonous snake. Then she asks:
"Are there other kinds of poisonous snakes besides adders?"
The farmer nods.
"Poisonous snakes come in all colors and sizes. There are poisonous snakes in every country around the world. The beautiful sand otter in Italy is just as