Are you wondering if there are dangerous animals in Portugal?
Portugal is a beautiful country that attracts tourists from around the world. It’s also one of the safest countries in the world, and you can rest assured that you won’t be attacked by any dangerous animals during your stay here.
We often go camping and hiking in Portugal as a family, and while there are some animals that could potentially pose a risk to us, the chances of encountering them are pretty slim.
We once came across a scorpion under a rock during our camping adventures, but have only managed to get a glimpse of the rest in captivity. We let go of the rock pretty quickly, and the little guy scuttled away into the forest! If you’re planning to venture off the beaten path or into more isolated areas, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and know what to expect.
If you’d like to explore Portugal’s parks and wild places, here is a list of questions you might have about wild animals in Portugal and some information on where you might come across them.
Are there poisonous spiders in Portugal?
Yes, there are some poisonous spiders in Portugal. These include the Mediterranean Black Widow spider, the Desertas Wolf spider, and the Brown Recluse spider or Violin Spider.
Although the huge Desertas Wolf Spider is only found in the woods on the island of Madeira, both other spiders are commonly found in urban areas on the continent like Lisbon and Porto.
While bites from these spiders are rare they can be quite serious, which is why it is important to keep your eyes peeled in areas where they are known to be present.
Look carefully in dark quiet places like garages, woodpiles or outhouses to make sure you don’t disturb a Black Widow spider. They can easily be recognized because of the hourglass marking on its back.
The Brown Recluse also has markings on its body, in the shape of a violin. It tends to hide in old shoes and sometimes in clothing and only bites when provoked. Make sure to shake out shoes and clothes when camping to avoid bites since they can cause necrosis of the skin which turns into deep wounds.
If you do happen to get bitten by a spider, try to catch the spider and take it with you so the emergency unit knows exactly what they are dealing with.
Are there scorpions in Portugal?
Yes, there are scorpions in Portugal. The most common species you might find is the Yellow Scorpion, but they can vary from light yellow, to red or brown. They can be recognized by their segmented body, prominent pincers and long slim curved tail.
While they may look frightening their venom is generally mild and will not cause any severe harm to humans, but it’s still important to take precautions when exploring rural areas as they can cause really painful bites.
Try to wear protective clothing such as long pants and shoes that cover your feet entirely if you plan on hiking in wooded areas. Taking a flashlight along with you on night hikes may also help you spot them since they tend to hide during the day and come out at night looking for food. This also means you should make sure to wear shoes if you wake up at night to go to the bathroom!
Scorpions are found more commonly in the South of Portugal and tend to avoid cities. They like to hide in shoes, and can often be found under rocks, so keep your eyes peeled for them if you’re planning on camping.
Are there other poisonous insects in Portugal?
Yes, there are other poisonous insects in Portugal. These include the processionary caterpillars which are most commonly found in pine trees and leave behind silky white nests as they feed on needles. These caterpillars all follow each other closely one behind the other as they leave the nest and create long lines of evil fluffy critters.
The hairs from these caterpillars can cause severe allergic reactions if they come into contact with skin, or are breathed in so it is important to take precautions when entering potentially infested areas, especially with children or with pets.
You’ll generally see nests and the insects between February and April out in pine forests and more rural areas. Many wooded areas and private campgrounds are treated for these nests to make things safer for campers
Other species of dangerous insects in Portugal include hornets, wasps and bees which all pack a nasty sting that can be painful and require medical attention in some cases.
It is always best to keep your eyes open for any of these insects when outdoors, particularly during spring months when they are most active.
If you do get stung, put a cold compress on the sting, and keep it out of the sun. You’ll also want to take an antihistamine to keep the itch and swelling down, but if you find your airways closing up you might be allergic and need immediate medical attention.
Are there tarantulas in Portugal?
Yes, there are tarantulas in Portugal but they are very rarely seen and not considered a threat. They can usually be found in places such as woods and rural areas and live in underground burrows.
The Portuguese variety is about 7 cm long and doesn’t have any hair. Its bite is not particularly dangerous but can cause irritation and swelling, similar to a wasp sting. This is not a species you need to worry about since they are very rarely seen and most Portuguese don’t even know of their existence.
Are there mosquitos in Portugal?
Yes, there are mosquitos in Portugal. During the summer months, mosquitoes can become quite a nuisance and be found around water sources such as rivers and lakes, especially at dusk.
Although mosquitos are fairly common here, in most of Portugal you don’t need to worry about illnesses caused by some varieties like dengue or malaria. The Algarve is the only region of Portugal considered at risk for these tropical deseases since the Asian Tiger mosquito does exist in this region. However since there are no cases to transmit, using repellant or some mosquito repellant bracelets is usually more than enough precaution.
It is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites by covering up with long sleeves and trousers, using insect repellent and avoiding still water. Mosquito nets are also recommended when sleeping outdoors or in poorly screened accommodation areas.
Are there snakes in Portugal?
Yes, there are snakes in Portugal. The most common species of snake found in Portugal is the Montpellier Snake, which is a relatively harmless non-venomous grass snake. They can usually be found near streams and ponds and feed on amphibians such as frogs and lizards.
Other species of snakes typically found in Portugal include Aesculapian Snakes, Cat Snakes, Grass Snakes, Wormsnakes and several species of vipers. As with any wild animal, it is important to avoid contact with these creatures as they can still inflict painful bites or other injuries if provoked.
Are there poisonous snakes in Portugal?
There are two poisonous snakes in Portugal, Seoane’s Viper and Lataste’s Viper. Sightings mainly occur in rural areas away from human habitation and tourist resorts, so it is best to take extra care if you do wander off the beaten path.
These snakes generally avoid human contact, so are not usually something you need to worry about.
Are there dangerous Wild Animals in Portugal?
Yes, there are dangerous wild animals in Portugal. These include the Iberian Lynx, the wild boar, and the Iberian wolf.
All 3 of these animals learned long ago to shy away from human interaction, which means the probability of coming across them is next to nil, and they are not likely to be a danger if you do encounter them in the wild.
Both the Iberian Lynx and the Iberian Wolf are endangered species and efforts to save these beautiful indigenous animals are slowly bringing their numbers back up.
However, there is one creature in Portugal’s waters that can pack a powerful punch – the Portuguese Man of War. This jellyfish has six long tentacles that can reach up to 50 meters (164 feet) and its sting is extremely painful as well as potentially dangerous.
Thankfully, they are easy to spot by the bright blue or pink gas-filled bubble that floats above the water’s surface. They are generally washed up on beaches between the months of November and April.
If you are stung by one of these jellyfish, wash the area with vinegar to remove any leftover tentacles, and then use a hot pack or hot water to neutralize the venom.
Are there bears in Portugal?
No, there are no bears in Portugal. In fact, the species has been officially declared extinct in the country since 1843.
Recently, however, there have been reports of a brown bear being spotted near the border with Spain. This could be due to successful conservation efforts to save the brown bear population in Spain, and it is possible that some are slowly making their way over the border.
While it is unlikely that the bear population will grow to a dangerous level in Portugal, if you do encounter a brown bear while out hiking or exploring woods, remember to never approach the animal or get too close. Keep your distance and observe from afar.
Are there any sharks in Portugal?
Yes, there are sharks in the waters off Portugal. Sightings are rare, but several species of shark have been spotted off the coast of Portugal, including Hammerhead Sharks in the Algarve and Great White Sharks further north.
The most common species usually found in Portugal’s waters is the Blue Shark, which often gets caught in fishing nets.
Since sharks generally shy away from human contact, they are not usually a danger to swimmers. However, it is still recommended that you exercise caution while swimming in the ocean and always follow the rules of designated swimming areas with lifeguards.
If you ever see signs of a shark close to shore, exit the water immediately. Since Portugal has the only World Surf Reserve in Europe, it attracts many tourist which need to be vigilant when surfing Portugal. Better safe than sorry!
Where to Find Wildlife in Portugal
Although there are many National Parks in Portugal, the one with the most wildlife is the Peneda-Gerês National Park. This area is home to a variety of wildlife, including wolves, wild boar, Golden Eagles, and vultures.
There are also some rarer species that can be seen here such as the Iberian Lynx and the recently sighted elusive brown bear. While there may not be any guaranteed sightings of these animals due to their shyness, your best bet at spotting one is in the early hours of the morning or at dusk.
If you are looking to see more wild birds, some of the other national parks are an excellent option as well. Protected areas such as Montesinho Natural Park, the Ria de Aveiro, as well as the International Tagus Natural Park, and the Sado Estuary are all homes to a large selection of bird species, some of which are a rare treat like flamingos!
No matter what type of wildlife you are looking for in Portugal, there is bound to be something to discover!
Dangerous and Wild Animals of Portugal: The Wrap-Up
In conclusion, although there are some dangerous creatures in Portugal, the risks are minimal, and with a little common sense, travelers can enjoy swimming in Portugal’s beautiful waters as well as hiking and camping without fear.
The most important thing to remember is to always follow the rules of designated areas and lifeguards. With that in mind, you’ll have a fabulous vacation in Portugal.