7 Dangerous Animals in Spain That You Didn’t Know Existed

While we normally think of Spain as more of a sun and beaches kind of destination than a wildlife one, the country nonetheless has it’s fair share, including all sorts of dangerous animals you’ll want to steer clear of (some of which you likely didn’t even know existed).

We’re going to be looking at snakes, scorpions, bears, spiders, scorpions, you name it; from the big animals to the tiny insects, as we name the 7 most dangerous animals in Spain.

Let’s get started…

Scorpions

scorpion
By Álvaro Rodríguez Alberich – originally posted to Flickr as Buthus occitanus, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3914503

Kicking off with a fairly familiar foe, there are a number of scorpions (or the super exotic and Spanish sounding escorpión to the locals) that can be found lurking around Spain. While most are harmless, that big pointy stinger full of venom at the end of their tail is certainly something none of us wants to be on the receiving end of.

In spite of Spain’s scorpions not being particularly deadly, and a sting from one being far from fatal, a scorpion sting or a bite would still be incredibly painful, and they can lead to a few serious health issues.

Most scorpion related incidents occur when people unknowingly step on one, or when someone unwittingly picks up a stone that had one living underneath. On rarer occasions, it’s also been known for scorpions to find their way into peoples tents or clothing.

You can cross paths with a scorpion in just about any part of Spain, with some species living in grassy areas and other species in areas with little to no vegetation. If you do happen to come across a scorpion then it isn’t worth worrying too much about. Just keep your distance, and take care if you’re walking through areas with tall grass.

If you or someone you’re with does happen to get stung by a scorpion while in Spain then you’ll want to disinfect the area and apply something cold, like ice. You should then head straight to the hospital to get it looked at and treated by a medical professional.

Ticks

tick
Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash

Given everything on our list today, you may be surprised to learn that the tick is one of the most dangerous creatures of all living in Spain.

Ticks are incredibly small insects, around 5mm small to be precise, with two small fangs which it uses to draw blood. When full, a tick can grow to several times its original size, and it’s not uncommon for a tick to try and drink so much they burst!

This in and of itself isn’t what makes the tick dangerous. The main issue is that they can easily spread diseases, along with expelling some poisonous substances while they’re at it. They typically stick to grassy areas or places with lots of vegetation, so it’s best to wear boots or some good shoes if you’re going to be in parts like these.

Special tick sprays and repellants are sold in just about any pharmacy, so you’ll want to make sure you’re well prepared. Likewise, if you have a cat or a dog or any other animal with you, you’ll want to make sure you get them a flea collar or special shampoo to help keep the ticks away.

If you do find yourself bitten by a tick, make sure you remove it slowly and carefully. It’s typically best to seek medical attention too.

Tiger Mosquitos

tiger mosquito
Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

As with ticks, mosquitos are far from exclusive to Spain, and can be found just about everywhere in the world. Specifically though, one species of mosquito goes above and beyond simply being annoying, and becomes actually pretty dangerous.

This (as the heading would suggest) is the tiger mosquito, named for the tiger-like stripes all over their bodies. While a regular mosquito bite can leave behind a pretty itchy and annoying rash, tiger mosquito bites can be pretty nasty, mainly because of their persistance.

Not only can the tiger mosquito bite be more painful and dangerous than the bites of other mosquitoes, but they also don’t give up so easily either. On top of this, they’re also active during the day time.

Finding a tiger mosquito isn’t quite so easy though, so there is some good news. Still, it’s always important to stock up on lots of mossie spray before you go, just to be on the safe side, and wear tightly woven clothing.

Wasps

wasp
Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

Another insect on our list of the most dangerous animals in Spain is the wasp, and you’ll find all sorts of wasps around Spain, as you’d likely expect. No one likes these at the best of times, and we’re all familiar with the nasty sting we can expect if one takes a disliking to us.

That’s nothing though compared to the desert wasp (also known as a tarantula hawk!) though, which are huge, black, and usually spend their days hunting tarantulas(!). When a female finds one, she’ll give him a good sting to paralyse him before laying an egg in its stomach.

Over the next few months the tarantula is unable to move while the egg slowly hatches inside of him, before the baby wasp eats the spider alive from within.

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If you do happen to get stung by a desert wasp, then taking some ibuprofen and applying ice or vinegar to the area should do the trick. If you happen to find any swelling away from the sting then you’ll want to seek medical attention immediately, as this could indicate you’ve had a reaction to the sting that could potentially be fatal.

The Spanish Fly

spanish fly
By Franco christophe – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2105311

How harmful can a fly be? After all, being “so harmless you wouldn’t even hurt a fly” is a saying for a reason, right?

Well, when it comes to the Spanish fly, the answer is fairly. In fact, the Spanish fly isn’t really a fly at all, it’s actually a beetle—an elongated beetle with a shiny and metallic looking emerald-green body.

While not particularly dangerous up front, the Spanish fly does happen to be equipped with a pretty toxic yellow powder, which if ingested, could cause all sorts of nasty troubles in no short time. In fact, this very powder was used as a pretty potent poison way back when, and there’s numerous notable people throughout history who’ve succumbed to it.

Caterpillars

processionary caterpillar
Image by Marc Pascual from Pixabay

Caterpillars. You probably weren’t expecting to find caterpillars on our list. You probably also weren’t expecting that it’d be one of the most deadly of all of the dangerous animals in Spain either, but the Processionary Pine Caterpillar can be incredibly dangerous, especially to children and super especially to dogs.

In fact, these caterpillars are something of a natural mortal enemy to our furry canine friends, and they call just about all parts of Spain their home. Wherever there are pine trees you’ll likely find the processionary caterpillar, as they love to nestle in them and eat away at them over time.

While you won’t necessarily have to worry too much about crossing paths with one, it’s still worth being wary. If any of their long, poisonous hairs comes in contact with the skin then it’s not the end of the world—you’ll likely come out with a nasty rash, and will want to take some antihistamine tablets and seek medical attention immediately—the real issue comes when they’re ingested, which could be fatal (and why they’re such a risk to children and dogs).

Many dogs who’ve licked or bitten these venomous caterpillars have had to have their tongues cut, and any sudden breathing difficulties is a sure-fire sign they’ve eaten one.

Dangerous Dogs

dangerous dog
Image by Lilla Kalocsai from Pixabay

The final stop on our list of the 7 most dangerous animals in Spain is man’s best friend, the simple dog. Dangerous dogs can be a bit of an issue in Spain though, and there are a few fairly large and strong breeds of dog that you’re likely already well aware of. These include the Akita Inu, Pit Bull, Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Mastiff, and many other breeds that have been genetically bred for fighting.

In many countries these breeds may have been outlawed, but in Spain they’re fully permitted. There are some rules in place though, and dogs such as these aren’t allowed out without a muzzle and a leash that’s less than two metres long.

While these dogs aren’t going to be going out of their way to attack someone for no good reason, the issue really lies with their owners. Many owners of dogs like these ignore the above rules and regulations, and unfortunately, irresponsible owners are even breeding these dogs for illegal fights.

If you do happen across any dogs like these that haven’t been muzzled or aren’t on a leash that’s less than 2 metres long then it’s best to keep your distance, and maybe even alert the nearest police officer.

Are there Venomous Snakes in Spain?

There are 13 species of snake in total living in Spain, and while most of the county’s snakes are completely harmless, 5 of them are venomous.

As always snakes aren’t known to attack unless they feel threatened, so if you happen across one of these—or any snake, as it’s always best to be on the safe side—then it’s always best to stay back.

Montpellier Snake

montpellier snake
By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63025809

Found in open and sunny parts of the Mediterranean, the Montpellier snake is olive or black in colour, with a white belly, and can grow more than 6 feet in length.

Their fangs are poisonous, and while bites from these snakes won’t be fatal, it sure won’t be fun. If you are bitten by a Montpellier snake you’ll want to make sure you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Asp Viper

asp viper
By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE – Asp Viper (Vipera aspis) female (found by Jean NICOLAS), CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61576909

A member of the cobra family, the asp viper is one of the most poisonous Snakes in Spain; able to cause cardiac arrest or even death from a single bite.

Luckily this snake isn’t so common, and may only be found in the Pyrenees. It should go without saying that if you’re bitten by an asp viper you should find immediate medical attention.

Seoane’s Viper

viper
By Benny Trapp – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18661976

Seaone’s Viper is another venomous snake in Spain, and definitely one to be avoided. Seoane’s Vipers are maybe the most 1970s looking snake ever, and can be recognised by their distinctive brown patterned body and snub nosed head.

The Seoane’s viper can be found in places such as Basque, Galicia, Leon, and the Biscay coastal strip.

Lataste’s Viper

Lataste's viper
By Elguerreroalex – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31669620

Lataste’s Viper is a fairly short snake coming in around 50cm, and can be found around the Spanish peninsula. With a distinctive zig-zag black and grey pattern on its body and triangular snub nosed head, this one likes to stick to rocky areas of Spain, preferring the drier locations over the wet.

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Again, this is another snake whose bite will want to be avoided.

Den Adder

common viper
By Benny Trapp – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12570624

Found just about anywhere in mainland Europe, the Den Adder (also known as the Common Viper) can be especially dangerous. A Den Adder bite could even be fatal to anyone in poor health, and again, like so many on this list, immediate medical attention will be required if bitten by one.

False Smooth Snake

hooded snake
By gailhampshire – Flickr: Hooded Snake. Macroprotodon cucullatus., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33266987

Finally we have the False Smooth Snake, or hooded snake, and we’re ending with perhaps the most sedate of all the venomous snakes in Spain.

Typically found around Catalonia, the False Smooth Snake isn’t particularly aggressive at all. That isn’t to say you should go near it and start poking though, as its venom, while mild, could still have a nasty sting. Ultimately it’s a bit too small to do any real harm to humans, but it still bites, so again, it’s best advised to stay back.

Are there Dangerous Spiders in Spain?

There are more than 1,700 unique species of spider calling Spain their home, and while the good news is that 99.99% of them are nothing to worry about, there are 3 spiders that you’ll definitely want to steer clear of.

Black Widow

The female Southern Black Widow
The female Southern Black Widow, with her distinctive hourglass markings | Image Credit: www.inaturalist.org

The Black Widow spider is the most infamous of the three spiders, however you’ll be pleased to know there aren’t all too many around. Certainly not enough to expect to cross paths with one. They’ll typically stick to the more temperate parts of the country, and are easily recognised by the big red hourglass on their bellies, and their otherwise jet black bodies.

A bite from a Black Widow is definitely not something you should have on your bucket list, and it can even be fatal to children under 5 years old. The rest of us could experience some fairly serious health issues.

The female of the species is the one that’s not to be reckoned with, and a female Black Widow can grow to almost 4cm in length (so they shouldn’t be too hard to notice). Males on the other hand only grow to be around half as large.

Wolf Spider

wolf spider
By Raphaël Poupon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83308049

Another dangerous spider in Spain is the wolf spider, which average slightly larger than Black Widows at around 5cm. As spiders go this makes it fairly large, but you won’t have to worry about those 2 inches being packed full of venom. The real issue with the wolf spider is that, if bitten, it’ll likely cause an infection.

Brown Recluse Spider

brown recluse
By Rosa Pineda – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27718265

The third of Spain’s dangerous spiders is the brown recluse spider. These are also non-lethal, although they can cause a fairly mean blister (that’ll look just like a bullseye) to form if you’re bitten. Most probably won’t notice when they’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider, but a couple hours later the blister will form as the venom starts to do its work, and then you’ll know all about it…

Are there Bears in Spain?

spanish brown bears
By Pxfuel – [1], CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95835159

We usually think of places like Canada, Russia, or California when it comes to bears, but there are plenty doing the proverbial in Spain too.

While not nearly as aggressive as a Grizzly Bear, the Spanish brown bear can be found up in the mountainous areas in the north of the country. This isn’t to say it’s safe to run up and give one a cuddle, however.

There are around 250 brown bears reported to be living in Spain’s mountains, and chances are you’re likely to spot one if you’re out there on a hike. The last thing you’ll want to do is get too close though, as all bears are incredibly territorial, and won’t be at all pleased to find you strolling through their back yard.

If you do happen to get too close and are spotted, the worst thing you could probably to do is run away—this will likely just encourage it to chase you. The old adage is to pump yourself up as big as possible and yell to scare him off. To be honest, we wouldn’t want to be in that position, so best to just stay back, keep your distance, and admire from afar.

Are there Wild Wolves in Spain?

iberian wolf
By Arturo de Frias Marques – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36546315

As popular animals go the wolf is certainly way up there. And is it any surprise? Dogs are man’s best friend after all, and wolves are basically extra fluffy dogs?

Spain’s Iberian wolf however is a pretty big boy—around 60 kilos in weight and 170cm long, with some pretty hefty chompers that you definitely won’t want to be on the receiving end of.

Generally speaking though the wild Iberian wolf is a pretty shy animal, and will be quick to flee if they sense any danger. Iberian wolves are also the only Western European wolf that it’s still legal to hunt, so they’ve learned to keep away.

If you do happen across any Liberian wolves out in the wild, you’ll likely find them living in the forests, typically in packs of around 5 to 10. And while 9 times out of 10 they’ll want to keep their distance, they have on occasion been known to attack, especially if you’re going for their young, if they’re injured, or otherwise unable to run away.

Same as with the Spanish brown bears, if you do happen across any wild Iberian wolves while holidaying in Spain, then it’s best to admire them from afar, and not run the risk of getting too close and making them feel threatened.