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Portugal venomous snakes and poisonous Spiders

Updated on June 28, 2017

Poisonous snakes and spiders seen whilst on vacation to 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, and although they are common in most parts of rural Portugal, there are not many reported cases of snake bites, so far.

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.


The general populations 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 bit 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.

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

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, but is usually alone and can be easily found in the home.

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 snake bite. If you leave this bite untreated, it can cause 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 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. You will know these spiders by the fact that they are black and are alone. and the fact that on their body they have a red spot, very distinguishable.

I have had at least seven of these in my house in one summer season, not nice, 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.

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 and any other documentation in case medical attention is required.

Whilst on vacation to Portugal, have you encountered:

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      Eleonora 3 months ago

      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!

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      Tina 4 months ago

      They look horrible hope I don't see them

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      Paul Vicente 5 months ago

      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.

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      Lois 2 years ago

      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.

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      Bob 5 years ago

      "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.

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      ben 5 years ago

      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!!

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      NichoFly 5 years ago

      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!

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      Roberto 5 years ago

      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! :)

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      Huw Willaims 5 years ago

      Im very very scared now!!!!!

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      Miguel 5 years ago

      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. :)))

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      Tiago 6 years ago

      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!

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      Daniel 6 years ago

      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