- First Aid
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.
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.
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.
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.