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Portugal Venomous Snakes and Poisonous Spiders


Poisonous snakes and spiders in Portugal.

Portugal, like many of the warmer climate countries in Europe, has its fair share of venomous snakes. Although allegedly, there is only one venomous snake in Portugal which is harmful to humans.

There are in general, eight different types of snake which call Portugal home. Snakes are quite common throughout Portugal and usually present no threat to man. Most sightings of snakes come from the rural areas where they can be seen basking in the sunshine.

Vacations or holidays to Portugal can be ruined if people do not take extra care when they are walking about in the rural areas. Although snakes are mainly shy, they will attack if provoked, agitated, or protecting their young.


The general population of snakes in many countries have been falling over recent years. Mainly due to the onslaught of mans house building projects destroying the snakes natural habitat. The most common snakes that are found in Portugal are:


1) The Ladder Snake

2) The False Smooth Snake

3) The Grass Snake

4) The Motpellier Snake

5) The Viperine Snake

6) The Lastaste Viper

7) The Southern Smooth Snake

8) The Horseshoe Snake

The Lastaste Viper, pictured above, is Portugal's only known venomous snake from the viper family. If a person is bitten by any snake, do not attempt to suck out the poison, it will enter the other persons blood stream.

Do not put anything cool or cold on the bite wound, it could make the tissue damage worse. Take an anti-histamine tablet and get to hospital quickly, do not panic.

Victims may feel headaches and nausea within a few minutes of being bitten. Blurred or loss of vision may also occur as the venom speeds through the blood system. Partial or whole paralysis of a bitten limb could follow within a couple of hours.

Kidney failure followed by a painful death may occur if medical treatment is not sought as soon as possible following a bite. It has been known for victims to suffocate in extreme circumstance due to inflammation of the windpipe.

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Only 4% of snake bite victims are fatal. Medical treatment is usually readily available. If bitten, always seek medical attention immediately.

Most snake bites will come to nothing as a bite can act as a warning. This is where very little or no venom is actually injected into the victim.

The Armadeira Spider

The Armadeira Spider

The bite, very painful

The bite, very painful

Poisonous Spiders

There are a few of these in Portugal, one being the Armadeira Spider, whose bite is quite painful, and can cause dizziness, vomiting and possible muscle spasms.

It can grow to approximately 5 cm in length and has been known to travel in groups. Predominantly a loner, they can be found inside the home in warm dry areas such as drawers, closets and even clothing.

They originally came to Portugal in banana boxes, and have adapted to the continental climate. My advice, see it, stand on it, make sure you have shoes on first. Usually this spider can be seen at the cooler times of the day and through the night.

If bitten, go straight to hospital for antiaracnídico, the serum for this spider bite. If you leave this bite untreated, it may lead to the dislocation of a limb or finger and possibly the loss of the limb. Be careful, if you are on holiday in Portugal and see a spider in your house or hotel and are not sure about it, do not pick it up.

FREE link: Gaping wounds caused by spider bites in Portugal - graphic

The Infamous Black Widow Spider

The Infamous Black Widow Spider

There are many biting spiders in Portugal, keeping away from them is virtually impossible.

There are Tarantula spiders in Portugal, not common place, but they are there and do not usually attack unless provoked.

There is also the sinister black widow spider. Distinguishable by a red spot on their otherwise totally black torso. They are seemingly solitary spiders, but where you find one, their mating partner will not be to far away.

I have had at least seven of these in my house in one summer season whilst living in Spain. The bite hurts and you may need to seek medical attention. If bitten, the area may swell quite large. Legs and arms may swell to three times their normal size. If bitten, take anti-histamines and seek medical attention immediately.

Portugal has an excellent medical care system for people on vacation to this paradise country. Ensure to carry original as well as copies of medical forms / cards, passport copies and any other documentation in case medical attention is required.


John on November 05, 2018:

I saw a six foot long black snake in the Algarve on 2 November 2018.

I think it was a Western Whip Snake which l have also seen in Italy.

Looking at sites on the internet this snake does not seem to be listed as resident in Portugal

Any comments please.

Eleonora on September 24, 2017:

Im terrifyed of creatures like this, in sweden (Where im from) we dont have any dangerous animals at all. Just a few weeks ago my dad told me and my siblings that we were gingtomove to portugal in like 3 years. Yuk, hope i dont see any of these disgustingly scary creatures!

Tina on August 29, 2017:

They look horrible hope I don't see them

Paul Vicente on August 03, 2017:

I live in Toronto (Canada) and had to wait 8 hours for my daughter to get an ultrasound done. Canada is one of the G20 Countries. While vacationing in Portugal took my Daughter 2 hours to an ultrasound done, and blood work.

Lois on May 03, 2015:

I am coming to Monchique in August. Should I be concerned? I adore being in the mountains and around so much greenery but I am petrified of Spiders.

Bob on September 24, 2012:

"Portugal has an excellent medical cre system for people on vacation to this pardise."

You are joking, right? I've lived between the U.K. And Portugal for 18 years (owning a home a few hrs from Lisbon) and I have yet to wait less than 5 hours to be seen at a hospital. Unless you are in a highly touristy area or Lisbon proper, do not count on fast, competent care.

ben on July 01, 2012:

I seen a 3 ft black snake with flattened head on a mountainous road towards penella. told my sister and she said I ain,t going to portugal!!

NichoFly on June 25, 2012:

antiaracnídico, the serum for this snake bite. ? Spiders, I suspect.

We had a Horseshoe Whip snake staying in our house in Central Portugal for a while, did a good job keeping the mice at bay!

Roberto on June 16, 2012:

Portugal was fun, although I did not enjoy the fact that I had about a billion mosquito bites. Thankfully I didn't get bitten by any poisonous snakes or spiders! :)

Huw Willaims on March 04, 2012:

Im very very scared now!!!!!

Miguel on February 24, 2012:

Living in Portugal, I'm sorry that I've never seen any of those dangerous species!!!! It was a sign of a luxurious tropical nature for sure. But I'm afraid that our biodiversity being very interesting is not poisoning! Portugal is in Europe not in Africa. A very common mystique because of our ancient colonies. :)))

Tiago on September 26, 2011:

Alicranço, the Portuguese term for Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) is a limbless lizard native to Eurasia, and frequently found in Portugal. It is NOT POISONOUS, and though many people think they are snakes they have very distinguishable features which show they are lizards.

These reptiles can shed their tails in order to escape predators, and the tails regrow. Their small eyes are able to blink, as they do have eyelids, which is something no snake has. In addition, they may also have visible ears.

So, there is no need to panic if you happen to find a slow worm, they're nice and keep worms and slugs away from your garden!

Daniel on July 05, 2011:

you forgot to mention other species who are poisonous for example the Alicranço who resembles a worm and due to his resemblance people often get bitten for mistake. there are also some type of spider like the widow but in the abdomen you get a silver spot

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