Venomous snakes and poisonous spiders in Greece
Venomous snakes, poisonous spiders, biting insects, and dangerous animals in Greece can turn an adventure vacation into the vacation from hell. Greece is an astoundingly beautiful country, but there are occasionally some dangers that can lurk in dark corners, on the beach, or near the home and are not in the glossy brochures.
Greece has many different spiders, but none are venomous or poisonous. Spiders in Greece are typically small and not dangerous. They are usually found in the wooded and rural areas as well as the odd one in the hotel room.
BUT.... There are 23 types of snake found on the Islands of Greece.
Most of the Greek snakes are harmless, but they will bite a person if they feel threatened. Usually tourists will inadvertently step on a snake and this is when the snake will retaliate. Summer is the worst time for tourists whom are afraid of snakes as breeding and basking snakes are abundant.
Summer is breeding season, and if a mother snake with newborn baby snakes is approached, she will defend her litter vigorously. Deep sea fishing trips and scuba diving trips can be arranged in Greece, but wary of sea snakes.
The Ohia snake is also referred to as the Adder snake and is classed as a venomous viper. This is the only venomous snake in Greece. Growing to between 2 - 3 feet ( 60 - 90 cm ) long, this snake was responsible for a five year old boys death in Britain in 1985 and a woman in Germany in 2004.
This viper is a common viper snake and is not an endangered species. The people of Greece think that any good snake is a dead snake. They can be seen swerving their cars from one side of the road to the other in order to run over a snake, not to avoid it.
Bites from this venomous snake are rare, and the venom is not usually potent enough to cause death. But fevers, nausea, headaches and vomiting as well as diarrhea, can ruin a vacation. If a person is bitten, seek medical assistance immediately, do not take any chances.
There are over 150 Brown Bears in Greece. They are in two separate areas, one in Rodopi Mountain Range and the other on the Pindos Mountain Range. Bears have an unpredictable temperament but do not attack humans as a food source.
But they will attack if they have been frightened or feel threatened. Sows with cubs possess the greatest threat as with any animal they are only protecting their children. There have been no reported brown bear attacks in Greece in recent years, so keep it that way. If venturing into the above mentioned mountain ranges, take care and only go with a guide if possible.
If you see or hear a bear, running away may help, do not wait around to take pictures on your mobile phone. Some say that cowering down before the bear, in a dominated way, may improve chances of survival.
The Humble Man Eating Mosquito
Greece during the summer months, is where most of the worlds population of mosquitoes seem to head for. Described as the playboy refuge for mosquitoes, Greece is inundated with them during summer.
The Greek mosquitoes do not carry Malaria, but a possible parasite called Blow Fly larvae on their legs, which are ugly but harmless. Take precautions such as mosquito repellents away with you to avoid a billion biting insects in your room during your stay.
Deadly Sea Creatures Around Greece
The beautiful warm oceans around Greece can hold some foreboding secrets. Swimming may never be the same again.
Always swim on or near a regulated beach.
These little beauties have very sharp teeth and can cause dangerous bites in humans. It is only the larger Moray Eels that have been known to bite swimmers. They can usually be found along reefs and wait in cracks and crevices for their prey to wonder by before lunging at them.
Morays are usually shy and will only attack if provoked. If an octopus is seen in the water, be warned, there is usually a Moral eel not far behind. Certain Morays may be venomous, but this has not been scientifically proven, scuba divers beware.
Many scuba divers and deep sea fishering men have lost fingers to this fish. In many areas, hand feeding these little monsters by divers has been banned. Even in death, the Moray eel will not release it's grip on its victim, even if you cut the head off. If a swimmer is bitten, seek medical attention immediately, the wound may cause severe tissue loss and leave deep scars.
These little fish can grow to be approximately 37cm in length. They bury themselves in the sandy shallow waters with just their eyes showing waiting for shrimp or small fish to swim by.
Most human injuries are caused when a person stands on this fish. Weever fish have very sharp dorsal spikes, and these are what causes the human injuries. The spikes will go through the wet suit or flipper of scuba diving equipment which can be on hire.
After a Weever sting, a person may become nauseous, feel numbness, have headaches, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Severe sting reactions include abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, unconsciousness, gangrene and a high level of tissue degeneration. If in doubt as to what has caused an injury, always seek medical advice.
Sting Rays are actually related to sharks, and they have either one or two very sharp 35cm long sharp barbs on the tip of their tails. Used only for self defense purposes, these barbs cause some horrific injuries and even death to humans.
The barb does have venom secreted within a skin pouch which is delivered when the barb makes contact. The barb itself breaks off into the victims flesh, needing surgery to remove it. Deter shallow water Sting Rays by shuffling along the sea bed, this will cause any hidden Rays to swim away.
Legendary crocodile hunter Steve Irwin was killed by a sting ray in 2006. Apparently he was 'stabbed' hundreds of times by one sting ray.
Portuguese Man 'O' War
This airbag of a jellyfish is an excellent hunter and provides Australia with over 10,000 stung humans every year. These jelly fish travel almost everywhere around the world, blown by the winds, and are usually found in groups of over 1000.
Their tentacles can grow to over 165 feet (50 meters) but are usually only 30 feet (10 meters) in length.
Each tentacle has thousands of venom releasing nematocysts, usually to kill small fish before devouring them. Dead Portuguese man 'o' wars and cut off tentacles can still deliver the same amount of venom as a live specimen.
The stinging sensation will leave welts on the skin which can last for several days. More intense pain can be delivered as the venom travels through the blood system. More serious effects include fever, interference with lung and heart function as well as shock and possible death.
Keep clear of any jelly fish in all tropical waters, just in case. Do not pee on a person who has been stung by a jelly fish. It has not been deduced to work scientifically, it can cause embarrassment and also an arrest for indecent exposure.
TOURIST WARNING: Human Organ Trafficking Gangs -free link
Greece is a fantastic and awesome country. Serious injury is not a frequent occurrence, but it can and does happen. Always be careful when abroad and do not deem it insignificant if you are bitten or stung. Always seek medical help.
Free links to:
Italy - Dangerous snakes and poisonous spiders
Portugal - Deadly wasps, spider and snakes
Spain - venomous caterpillar's, snakes and mosquitos
stefanos on April 14, 2020:
i am greek and in greece there is rarely mosquitos. yes there are a few but not many.
Listen on January 27, 2020:
*Amanda* Australia is not deadly so chill.
spongebob on March 15, 2019:
Portuguese man 'o' war isnt "jelly fish" - its a creature of 2 different species living in symbiosis. And what is important – Portuguese man 'o' war does not habit Mediterranean. It occasionally drift into from Gibraltar strait, apparently, but Med is too warm/salty for it, I suppose.
But what is left out in that crappy article is black widow (common in mainland) and another species of viper, which is much more dangerous than a european viper mentioned in the so called "article".
About "local knowledge" - Greeks, like other Southern-Europeans, usually do not know even who lives under her/his front porch... of-course, there are some rare exceptions, but thing is that typical owner of the guesthouse or tavern, or tourist desk employee does not now much about wildlife under her/his nose. That is because, they just do not care much. So be careful, to ask any "local expert" for advise.
AMANDA on September 07, 2018:
THERE IS NOTHING DANGEROUS IN GREECE!!!!! WAKE UP TOURISTS!!!! GREECE IS NOT AUSTRALIA. I HAVE NEVER SEEN AN OHIA SNAKE MY ENTIRE LIFE IN GREECE. HOWEVER OHIA IS NOT DEADLY ANYWAYS SO.... GIVE US A BREAK HERE PFFFF!!!!!
that fly guy on January 22, 2018:
the ohia snake is the only deadly one?
Antoinette Finegan on August 10, 2015:
Just back from Corfu, I was digging in the sand in Sidari and got bitten or stung by something! My finger was in immense pain & then went numb, it travelled up my hand making my joints in my hand ach. I asked the guy at the cafe if there's anything to worry about and he said no, and gave me some bite cream. Next day I was fine. After reading some of these posts I think in hindsight I should have checked it at the local surgery?!....
Plus... Everyone reacts differently to stings and bites and should seek medical advise anyway, just incase!
Vaughan on March 23, 2015:
I live in Sydney Australia, I went to a music festival in the blue mountains next to a river! I was lying down on the ground without a t. Shirt on in the chill out area! Great rhythms playing and people dancing around camp fires and swimming in the river! In the morning I discovered hundreds of funnel web spider holes(nests) in the ground were I was lying down on my back chillin for a few hours! I realised I wasn't bitten cos the spiders were afraid to come out cos of the DJs bass lines were so phat and deep, it kept the spiders hiding in their tunnel homes in the ground! Most of the time even deadly insects are not goin around lookin for trouble! Mostly it's humans that need to stop and be a little cautious when out and about enjoying nature! Particularly when you are relaxed and partying! Stepped on a stingray once at rose bay, Sydney harbour, now man" that was painful!
michael Johansson on July 22, 2014:
I have been a lot of times on cyprus and caught latrodectos geometricus. ( brown widow) they are every where ....but i don't think the locals ever noticed them ....is going to rodos soon and doing some hunting for scorpion and widows so i hope to find some ...gonna be in faliraki so any help where to find them would be cool ....love the little creatures.from Michael
Chad Young from Corona, CA on June 23, 2013:
We have similar spiders here in Southern California. I just killed a black widow by my garbage cans and a brown recluse over by my swimming pool pumps. I seem to come across them on a weekly basis and I have an exterminator that comes out every 2 months. There's really nothing you can do about them except be on the watch for them. You can keep them out of the house with an exterminator service.
Stacey on August 26, 2012:
I am in Greece holidaying now and gave seen lots of spiders here, big, small and also ugly lol but I was wondering why the camelback spider wasn't mentioned here? I am on the island mytilene ( lesvos ) there are some nasty stinging insects here and also, lots of beautiful ones too!! Should I be worried about spiders here??? X
George on July 18, 2012:
I just killed this HUGE black spider about an inch in circumferance. This is the 3rd such spider I've come across ( and killed ) this month. I've lived here in Greece( E. coast of Pelloponese ) , on & off, the last 30yrs. and never seen such a spider before. Was online looking for pictures and came across this site. Sure most spiders are not poisounous but let me tell you....this spider sure looked dangerous to me ! I have an 9yr. old who'se petrofied and sleeping with us tonight.
chrisnstar on June 12, 2012:
I just did research on snakes of greece. I'm always interested in reptles. ACcordig to Wikepedia, there are several species of vipers in Greece. most are classified as endangered. I have a feeling that all the venemous snakes are lumped into the category of Ohia. There are also many beautiful lizards in Greece. I'm from Kansas, so not afraid of creepy crawly things. They are a fact of life here. And being Greek, I certainly would not hesitate to visit my homeland. There are fearsome creatures everywhere. One cannot stay under a bubble and experience life and see great places.
greg on May 22, 2012:
there are 2 spiders that are dangerous but rarely found in greece especially indoors.
1. Meditereanean Latrodectus (common black widow of south europe) mostly in rocks and debris with plants
2. Loxosceles refuciensis (recluse spider) could be found in dark uncleaned basements (islands)...why need to go in a basement in your hotel anyway (most greeks don't even know the existence of this spider
There is no need to become hysteric as i live in greece and never found them
These spiders genus are mostly world-wide especially latrodectus
Greece is a favorable place for spiders but 99% of them you come up are harmless so not to be afraid at all. I spend my vacations in a village in south greece and seen lots of spiders indoors but never had a problem. Regural cleaning would do the job.
Practically if you are out in the grass - dried fields for a walk always wear socks and shoes and hold a stick kicking it on the ground. Snakes are more propable to see if you walk in the fields (try paths or whatever) so they walk out of your path to flee. The Greek viper (Ochia) is dangerous but not life threatening (seek medical treatment if so unlucky) In case of wasps avoid messing with big red/yellow ones in grapes and fruits
If you see spiders indoors in village homes 8 out of 10 possibilties is for a daddy long leng spider (totally harmless) and in grass fields and sideroads close to homes funnel web nests or orbweavers (also harmless and never run indoors)
Have a great time in my country
billericky (author) from Plymouth on January 29, 2012:
Please do not be afraid to go to Greece. It is beautiful and coming into contact with animlas like these are very rare. It does happen, but if you pay attention to warnings the holidayd should be out of this world. And as my mother has lived there for the past 12 years she still has all her limbs and has not been bitten by a snake, although she has seen a few snakes, the odd sting ray and portuguese man o war on several occasions.
s on January 29, 2012:
This is the most fear monguring hub ever! I'm getting ready to go to Greece this summer and now I'm terrified.