Poisonous & Venomous Snakes, Spiders and creatures in Spain
There are many dangerous insects, spiders and snakes in the humid and hot climates of Spain and Portugal. Most are seasonal, and the majority are usually with us in the summer months, but in Spain, we also have the winter months poisonous animals.
There are the usual wasps and bees that every country gets, but here are some of the more unusual pests which you will need to watch out for when holidaying in this part of the world.
First we have the most obvious, the dreaded scorpion. Found usually under rocks, these little devils pack a nasty little sting.
Whenever you are moving rocks, stones or basically anything from the ground, kick the item first, so it moves a bit away from where it was originally. This way you can see if there is a scorpion underneath, or wear thick gloves prior to moving something from the ground.
In the morning, before you get dressed, shake and check any clothes that were on the floor, and always check inside your shoes, but not by putting your hand inside them.
When you first get to your destination, always seek out the local chemist or medical centre, especially if you have children, this may save you time later on in case of an emergency.
If you have been stung by a scorpion, first remove all jewelry as the infected area may begin to swell, apply a cool compress and seek medical attention, if no medical attention can be given, take 1-2 tablets of Tylenol every 4 hours. Avoid aspirins and ibuprofen.
There are many different types of wasps in Portugal, Spain and Italy, and the surrounding islands. Most just give a nasty sting, and some of these wasps can look terrifying and quite large.
There is what is commonly called the dessert wasp, which is usually found in the desserts of Africa. This wasp would normally hunt Tarantula spiders, then they would sting the spider, which paralyses the Tarantula, and lay a single egg inside the Tarantulas stomach.
The paralysed spider then waits unable to move for months whilst the egg hatches inside him, and then eats the spider alive from the inside. Nasty. But a wasp that hunts Tarantulas? A scary thought, avoid this one at all costs. See also Killer wasps in Japan.
If you are stung by a wasp, ibuprofen will help as will applying ice or vinegar. If there is swelling away from where the initial sting, seek medical attention immediately, there may be a reaction to the sting which could be fatal.
Tourist Warning: Human Kidney Harvesting in Spain
Hairy Caterpillars / Processional Caterpillars
These usually come out around October throughout till February. You know when the caterpillar season has started by the cotton wool looking balls in the pine trees.
These are the Processional Caterpillar nests, the nests start very small but after only a few days can be the size of footballs. The caterpillars come out to feed as the temperatures begin to cool in the evening, but they can still be found in the heat of the day.
They are easy to spot on the ground, they walk nose to bum. Hundreds of caterpillars marching in a single file line, a fantastic but deadly site.
They hibernate during the summer months and can stay in the ground for up to four years until the temperature is right for them to come out. They do not bite or sting. They are covered in very fine hair, which they shed instantly they are disturbed, these fine hairs are suddenly airborne and if they touch somebodies skin, a rash will form within minutes, spreading through the entire area.
When an animal sniffs them, the hairs can get lodged into their nose and throat causing suffocation.
The Spanish can be seen cutting down and burning nests throughout Autumn. If you have been in contact with these, seek medical attention immediately, they will either give you an injection or a tablet for younger children, do not rub the infected area, you will spread the rash.
Warn your children about these, they are not pleasant. If you find them in your garden, carefully collect them with a shovel and burn them.
Out of over 1500 different species of spider in Spain and Portugal, there are only three which are quite poisonous. The black widow spider is one of them.
You can spot a black widow spider by the red spot on its back behind its head. If bitten by one of these little nasties, ibuprofen and a cold compress will help, but seek medical attention as soon as possible, it has been known for a grown mans whole arm to swell to twice the size.
If you get bitten by anything you are unsure of whilst in a foreign country, seek medical attention.
Snakes are everywhere in Spain and all other warmer climate countries. Most of these are harmless, scary if you are not used to them, trust me, they are more scared of you, but if cornered, will put up a fight.
There are about five different venomous snakes in Spain, most belonging to the Viper family. To be on the safe side, avoid all snakes where possible. If bitten by a snake, get medical attention immediately.
Snake vaccines are fresh, and cannot be stored for a long period of time, and most of Spain's snake venom antidotes, come from Argentina. If possible, and it does sound daft, but get a description of the snake that bit you, there are different vaccines for different bites, it may help the doctor when you see one.
Don't be put off of going on holiday to warmer climates, just be careful.