Sadly the days of Barbary lions prowling around Morocco are over. The animal is now extinct in the wild and can only be viewed in captivity. But that doesn’t Morocco has run out of dangerous animals. There are still some left, quite a few, in fact.
Not many are as majestic as the lion, but there are a couple of predatory mammals to watch out for and many venomous reptiles and insects. You’d be wise to wear appropriate footwear when walking in Morocco, and keep your eyes on the ground, and refrain from turning over any rocks!
But we’re not trying to scare you, just helping you prepare for what you might come across in the mountains, forests, and deserts of this uniquely diverse country. So, here’s our list of the top 9 dangerous animals you should keep an eye out for in Morocco.
African Golden Wolf
A relatively new species, the African Golden Wolf has only been formally identified since 2015. Before that, these beautiful creatures were mislabeled as golden jackals but are now known to be more closely related to the grey wolf than the jackal.
An adaptive creature, the golden wolf, lives in a variety of habitats across North Africa, including arid, tropical, and Mediterranean regions, and in Morocco, have been spotted living at altitude in the Atlas mountains.
They feed primarily on small mammals and reptiles such as hares, rodents, and lizards but can hunt prey as large as a gazelle or wild boar. Unfortunately, they have also been known to eat lambs and goats, which leads to the most significant threat to their existence, human persecution. As with the grey wolves of Europe, golden wolves are heavily disliked by farmers and shepherds who fear for their livestock’s safety.
The palm rat, roof rat, or black rat is a pest in Morocco and has a reputation for biting unwitting campers and hikers. Although the bite itself may be painful, the real danger comes from the diseases it carries and can pass onto humans.
Palm rats can carry many diseases such as typhus, leptospirosis, and toxoplasmosis. Some of these diseases can be fatal, and any bite by these animals in Morocco could be dangerous.
If hiking, be sure to wear sensible footwear – not flip flops or sandals – and seek help from a medical professional as quickly as possible if you are bitten. In addition, if you are in an area with a rodent population, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly and try not to handle anything that has been in contact with rat droppings or urine.
Left to their own devices, wild boars do not pose much of a threat since they prefer to avoid interaction with humans where possible. However, when they are hunted, as they increasingly are in Morocco, these animals become much more dangerous. They are listed as one of the most hazardous animals to hunt due to their intelligence, unpredictability, and aggression when threatened. And, of course, their strength, speed, and razor-sharp tusks.
The extinction of the apex predators such as the Barbary lion and African leopard from Morocco has left the wild boar with few natural predators. This, plus their prolific breeding habits, has led to their numbers rising sharply. To counteract this, Morocco allows and encourages boar hunting, including offering hunting holidays aimed at tourists.
If you are thinking of attempting this, check the tour company thoroughly to ensure that their safety standards and procedures are high. Because, when provoked, cornered, threatened, or injured, wild boars are very capable of causing severe injury and death to a human.
The striped hyena is known to live in Morocco’s Atlas mountains and forested regions. Considered one of the most intelligent hyena species in the world, they are also the most distinctive, known for their striped coats, bushy mane, and their unique body shape. The striped hyena’s front legs are noticeably longer than its back ones causing the characteristic downward slope from its shoulders towards its tail.
Hyenas are entirely capable of killing their own prey but, scavengers by nature, they prefer to eat the remains of other animal’s kills. They will also dig through refuse for food and dig up fruit and vegetable plants. This makes them unpopular with people but is not as awful as their habit of digging up and eating human remains.
In some countries where hyenas roam, stones must be placed across graves to stop this macabre habit from occurring. There are also documented incidents of Hyenas attacking children during times of starvation; the attacks usually happened at night to children who were sleeping out of doors.
Morocco is said to have around 50 species of scorpion. While most of those species are harmless to humans, 22 are venomous and include some of the most venomous species of scorpions in the world. Scorpions of the Buthidae family, which includes the fat tail scorpion, are the most common and the most dangerous animals in Morocco.
The venom in the sting of the Buthidae family is capable of killing a person. Morocco has access to antivenoms that can save the stung person, but since the venom can kill in a matter of hours, anyone stung must seek medical help as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, children are the most at risk of death from a venomous scorpion sting because of the ratio of venom to body weight. For example, in 2019, 44 people died from scorpion envenomation, and 43 of them were children. Therefore if you are traveling with children in Morocco, we urge you to take all precautions against scorpions.
It is essential to wear appropriate footwear when hiking or walking in the bush or desert. Always shake out your shoes before putting them on, and try not to turn over rocks while walking.
Since it’s also said that 70% of scorpion stings occur in the home, don’t allow children to put their hands into dark corners or crevices without checking for stingers first.
There are many species of snake living in Morocco, and incidents of snake bites are high, especially around rural communities involved in agricultural work. Each year there is a spike in the number of bites in the hot summer months when more snakes are out basking in the sun, and more people are likely to tread on them. While the species of snake responsible for each bite cannot always be confirmed, it is thought that the Puff Adder is responsible for the most snake bites in Morocco and across Africa.
This is primarily because of their high numbers and wide-ranging habitat. Secondly, because their tendency to lie still when people approach rather than escaping or making any noise increases their risk of being stepped on. And lastly, because of their venom strength and the large amount they inject with every bite. Puff adder bites can be fatal and should be treated extremely seriously.
This fellow can generally be recognized by the two horns that protrude above its eyes, giving it its name and distinctive appearance. However, they are sandy colored and camouflage extremely well with the desert habitats in which they are found. Although this camouflage serves well to protect them from predators, it is again the main reason for them biting humans. They camouflage too well and are at risk of being stepped on. However, unless you take them completely by surprise, this one, unlike the Puff adder, will give you some warning before striking. When threatened, they rub their coils together, making a rasping sound. So if you’re walking in the desert and you hear a strange noise, stop immediately and watch where you’re placing your feet because a horned viper bite can be fatal if left untreated.
A further note on Moroccan snakes: there are also species of Cobra in Morocco that are highly venomous. However, incidents of cobra bites are extremely rare. They don’t often bite in the wild, and most incidents involve snake charmers and their captive cobras in the famous Jama El Fna Square, Marrakech.
Flic Flac Spider
The amazing cartwheeling spider! This incredible creature has to be seen to be believed. When feeling threatened, the flic flac spider runs away by flipping end-over-end, like a gymnast, to double the speed at which it can escape predators. The pale brown spider looks like a bit of tumbleweed rolling away down the dunes but is actually in total control of its movements and can propel itself uphill in this manner too.
This unique arachnid is endemic to the Erg Chebbi region of Morocco, and many people travel there purely for a chance to see it in action. But they might be out of luck since it’s mostly active at night, preferring to spend its days avoiding the heat in its cool, tubelike den, which it spins out of sand and silk.
If you do go looking for them, it’s best to keep your distance. The Flic- Flac spider is a member of the huntsman species, and while its venom is mild compared to some of its relatives, its bite can cause irritation, infection, and allergic reactions in humans.
The camel spider is also known as a wind scorpion and a sun scorpion, but this creature is neither spider nor scorpion. It is a Solifugae and is the stuff of many a fearsome legend. Stories emerged about this strange creature during the Gulf and Iraq wars. When soldiers began telling tales of a spider that could grow to half the size of a human, chase people at high speed, disembowel camels and devour soldiers while they are sleeping.
You’ll be glad to know that none of these horrible myths are true. Camel spiders grow no larger than 6inches long, can only run around 10mph, and do not murder camels nor soldiers. They do, however, chase people, or more accurately, their shade. They will stand in any shadows they can find to avoid the desert heat, including a person’s. And if that person moves, they will chase that shadow. If you stop running (easier said than done if something that looks like this is chasing you), they will stop too and just enjoy the shade.
And if one does catch up with you, its bite is not venomous. However, they do have very powerful jaws, which they use in a specific way to pulverize the flesh of their prey. While not deadly to a human, a bite from them can be painful. So while you don’t need to run away from the camel spider, it might still be a good idea.
What is the most dangerous animal in Morocco?
Scorpions are the most dangerous animals in Morocco. Several species of venomous scorpions live in Morocco and their sting can be fatal if treatment is not found quickly enough.
Are there venomous snakes in Morocco?
Yes, there are several species of venomous snakes in Morocco. The puff adder is considered the most dangerous and is the one responsible for the most snake bites.
Are there dangerous spiders in Morocco?
Yes, there are dangerous spiders in Morocco like the flic flac spider. Although its bite is not deadly, it can cause infection, allergic reaction, and irritation.