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dangerous animals in cyprus

The 9 Most Terrifying & Dangerous Animals In Cyprus

The sun-drenched climate that makes Cyprus such a beautiful vacation destination also makes it the perfect home for quite a few dangerous animals. Although its largest land mammal is the Cypriot Mouflon, a species of wild sheep that is not at all frightening, the island makes up for it with its other creatures. 

Amidst the diverse landscapes, you’ll find 60 species of spiders, 9 snakes, Cyprus’s very own scorpion, some invasive insects, and several marine creatures that you’d be wise to keep your distance from. 

But despite this collection of creatures, incidents of vacation-ruining encounters with the dangerous animals on our list are rare in Cyprus. Many people won’t ever come across most of them. Still, it’s always best to be prepared, so read on, and maybe pick up some beach shoes and insect repellant before you go! 

Blunt Nosed Viper

blunt nosed vipers are the most dangerous animals in Cyprus
Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

Blunt nosed vipers are the most venomous snakes and most dangerous animals in Cyprus. This large snake can grow to 1.5m in length, and though its color and scale pattern may vary, it is easily recognizable by its distinct triangular-shaped head. 

The snakes are often found seeking shade under trees and in thick grass, and incidents occur when humans seek the same escape from the heat. The snake is not aggressive and will generally hiss a warning before striking. However, if you do not back away or if you continue to threaten it, then it may strike.

Around 20 blunt nose viper bites happen in Cyprus each year, generally between April to November when the snake is the most active. Its venom is toxic and powerful enough to kill a human, although deaths in Cyprus are extremely rare because effective treatment is readily available. So if you are unlucky enough to be bitten by this snake, it’s important that you stay calm but seek medical help immediately. 

European Cat Snake

The European Cat Snake is agressive and venomous but it's rear placed fangs make it only mildly harmful to humans.
Photo by Jeffrey Sciberras on Wiki Commons

Another venomous snake that lives in Cyprus is the European cat snake. However, it is less of a concern than the blunt nosed viper because, despite being a fairly aggressive species, the placement of its fangs make biting humans difficult.

The cat snake is a rear-fanged species, meaning that their fangs are at the back rather than the front of their mouths. When the snake bites, it must transfer the victim to the back of its mouth to sink its fangs in and inject its venom. Although it sounds like a complicated process, this method is actually very effective on the small prey of rodents and lizards on which these snakes live. But it is not effective on large prey or humans. 

There are hardly any incidents of this snake biting humans. Still, they are venomous and so it is wise not to test this theory or antagonize any snake you encounter. Instead, give them plenty of space and back slowly away.

Black Tarantula

The Black Tarantula is the largest spider in Europe.
Photo by Trespassers William on Wiki Commons

There are over 60 species of spiders in Cyprus. The vast majority of them are harmless, but there are a few that are dangerous to humans. And a couple that might give you a heart attack just due to their excessive size. Such as the Chaetopelma Olivaceum Tarantula.

Europe’s largest spider, this tarantula can grow to a leg span of over 12cm. Surprisingly given their terrifying size, these tarantulas are often kept as pets in Cyprus and the Middle East as they are useful for getting rid of cockroaches and other insects. 

The tarantula is capable of biting humans and its bite is unpleasant but not overly harmful. Similar to a bee sting it may cause some irritation and mild swelling, but it shouldn’t cause any lasting effects unless you are allergic to them.

Black Widow Spiders

over 60 species of spider live in Cyprus.
Photo by Veronica Lorine on Unsplash

Black widow spiders are one of the most venomous and most widely distributed spiders in the world. Black widows can be found on most continents and are recognizable by the red markings on their shiny black abdomens. These spiders are not large, the females only grow to around 0.5 inches long. The males are even smaller but it is only the females you need to worry about as the males lack the ability to bite through human skin.

The females can bite, although they generally only do so when feeling threatened or startled, and the bite does not always inject venom into the victim. But if it does, it can lead to painful irritation and swelling of the bitten limb, this pain can last for several days. In severe cases, the toxic venom can also cause muscle pain, shock, and rapid heart rate. The bite of a black widow is almost always treatable, but fatalities have occurred if the person bitten was a child or in poor health.

In Cyprus, the widows are often found around farmland, in long grasses and pastures, and also in disused containers, outhouses, and garages. Our best advice is that if you see one, leave it well alone! Back away and don’t try to touch it or its web, and if you’re unlucky enough to get bitten, find medical help.

Cyprus Scorpion 

Scorpions are one of the most dangerous animals in Cyprus. any sting by them should be taken seriously.
Photo by Sina Katirachi on Unsplash

Cyprus has its very own scorpion species, the Mesobuthus Cyprus, a member of the Bluthidae Scorpion family endemic to Cyprus. In Africa, the Bluthidae are the most dangerous scorpions, with extremely venomous stings which regularly cause deaths. However, due to differences in habitat and subspecies, the ones found in Europe are much less dangerous. 

A sting from a Cyprus scorpion can cause swelling, irritation, and lingering pain but should not be serious unless the person is allergic to the sting. However, given this scorpion’s dangerous relatives and the fact that the Cyprus Scorpion is not the only species found on the island, it’s wise not to take any chances. Especially if the person stung is a child, elderly or in poor health, in which case seek medical advice immediately. 

Scorpions in Cyprus live in hot, arid regions and are most active at night. During the day, they hide from the sun under rocks and in piles of logs, so it’s wise not to disturb those areas if possible. They may wander into houses and hotel rooms during the night, so we recommend always checking inside shoes and bed sheets before use. 

Mosquitos 

Mosquitos are a nuisance in Cyprus and dangerous because of the diseases they can pass to humans and animals
Photo by Iconcom on Pexels

Cyprus is home to a wide variety of mosquito species, some so small you wouldn’t even think they were mozzies. They swarm in their thousands around stagnant water and through the hot months of summer, and the irritation they cause has ruined many a vacation.

But they’re not just a pest in Cyprus, they can be dangerous too because of the illnesses they carry and can pass onto humans and animals. Mosquitos carry diseases such as Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, the Zika Virus, West Nile Virus, and Malaria. All illnesses which can have unpleasant symptoms and cause lasting effects. Some can also be deadly, and mosquito-borne diseases are responsible for thousands of deaths globally each year. 

Unfortunately, the problem of mosquitos is growing in Cyprus due to the arrival of the tiger mosquito, one of the most invasive species in the world. Originally from Southeast Asia, the tiger mosquito has adapted itself to habitats worldwide and now lives in over 100 countries. The tiger mosquito is an aggressive species that bites often and, unlike other mosquitos, chooses to live around urban areas never far from humans. 

Visitors to Cyprus are advised to take mosquito repellant with them and use mosquito nets over beds and windows. 

Lionfish

Lion fish are one of the most dangerous marine animals in Cyprus.
Photo by Jane Kirani on Unsplash

The lionfish is not only one of the most dangerous marine animals in Cyprus but also another of the most invasive species in the world. This is because lionfish like the tiger mosquito, have an ability to adapt themselves easily to new habitats where they breed quickly, devour native species, and damage fragile ecosystems. 

The lionfish are not native to Cyprus but have somehow found their way into their waters. Possibly through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea, possibly due to the illegal release of aquarium lionfish into the wild. However they got there, they are making themselves known and are now one of the most venomous fish in the Mediterranean.

Although the sight of a lionfish in the water is lovely, those beautiful striped fins contain spines that can deliver a powerful venom-laced sting. This sting can be painful, cause swelling of the limb, nausea, headaches, muscle pain, paralysis, chest pain, anaphylactic shock, and respiratory distress. Although a lionfish sting is usually treatable, rare cases of fatalities occur when the person stung is a child, elderly, in bad health or is stung multiple times. 

Weever Fish

Weever fish are dangerous for the risk the pose to unwary swimmers and wavers.
Photo by Luigi Frunzio on Unsplash

These stealthy creatures are only small but are another of the most venomous fish found in the Mediterranean sea. They are common along the coastline of Cyprus where they lie, semi-submerged in the sea bed with only their eyes showing. Once hidden, they wait until unsuspecting prey swims past before attacking it. Unfortunately, it is often unsuspecting swimmers, waders, divers and anglers who happen upon the weaver fish by mistake. 

The fish has several venomous spines along its dorsal fin, and when provoked, threatened, squeezed, or stepped on, it can extend these spines and stab its attacker with them. The spines have proved strong enough to penetrate through wetsuit boots. 

A weever fish sting can be excruciating, and the venom can cause infection, fever, shock, nausea, seizures, and cardiac and respiratory trouble. These symptoms are usually treatable, but in very rare cases, the weever fish venom can be deadly. 

Sea Urchin

sea urchins can be dangerous if their spikes penetrate your skin.
Photo by Sonia Kowsar on Unsplash

Sea Urchins are common in the waters of Cyprus, generally in rocky areas popular with snorkellers. These spiky creatures won’t chase, hunt, or attack you, but as with the weaver and the lionfish, the danger lies in their spines. 

If you brush up against, step on, or grab a sea urchin, the spikes can penetrate your skin where they then splinter and break, becoming lodged under your skin. While this is painful in itself, if left untreated, the spines can fester, causing irritation, infection, and blood poisoning. 

So, it is essential to remove all fragments of sea urchin spines if you get spiked. If you can’t remove them yourself or are worried that you haven’t gotten them all, seek medical help. 

despite the many dangerous animals, Cyprus is a beautiful vacation destination.
Photo by Mary El 0u on Unsplash

What is the most dangerous animal in Cyprus?

Blunt nosed vipers are the most dangerous animals in Cyprus. The snake’s bite is venomous and powerful enough to kill a person if left untreated. 

Are there poisonous spiders in Cyprus?

Yes, there are poisonous spiders in Cyprus. The black widow is the most dangerous and should be avoided. 

Are there poisonous snakes in Cyprus?

Yes, there are three poisonous snakes in Cyprus. The moderately dangerous cat snake the rarely seen Montpellier snake, and the highly venomous blunt nosed viper. 

Do you get scorpions in Cyprus?

Yes, you get scorpions in Cyprus, so it is wise to check inside shoes and bed sheets before using them and to avoid turning over rocks and piles of wood when walking.