Big and gruff bison meet stinging wasps on this list of the most dangerous animals in Denmark. It’s a must-read for anyone jetting across to Jutland or the bustling center of Copenhagen this year, because there are a few little creatures that you might not have thought of as a potential worry.
Yep, we’ve got grazers, fliers, biters, and water babies in this selection. It describes the sort of animals that might cause some problems on a trip riddled with swirl pastries and fairy-tale trips to the Tivoli; the ones you may need to watch out for between the art galleries of Aarhus and the sands of Skagen.
Thankfully, you should notice that there aren’t all that many candidates for the most dangerous animals in Denmark. Generally speaking, this country is relatively free of fearsome fauna, although the warmer months of summer do heighten the risks a touch.
Yep, it’s the little tick that comes in as perhaps the most dangerous animal of all in Denmark. Now if that’s not a clue to a place where the wildlife isn’t really a big worry, we don’t know what is! But, the truth is, these little critters can be a big problem when the summer months swing around in the home of Hans Christian Andersen and the cinnamon-topped pastry.
The warmer months herald tick season across all of northern Europe. It’s a time when the grasses get high, the meadows bloom, and the hikers take to the trails. That might sound pleasant and lovely and all, but you will have to watch out for these miniature critters, which will hang in the lawns and out in the fields waiting to latch onto prey. When they manage that, they stick onto the skin with tight pincers and suck out the blood, causing a bite that you might not notice for weeks or even months.
However, it’s not the bite itself that’s the issue. Instead, it’s the diseases that ticks can bring with them that put them up there with the most dangerous animals in Denmark. The most common and feared complication of a tick bite has to be Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection that can cause severe fever, joint pains, and headaches. There’s also a form of debilitating meningitis that can be transmitted by Danish wood ticks.
The key thing here is to take precautions against tick bites, particularly in the summer months and particularly if you’re planning on going out and about in the Danish countryside. It also helps to cover key areas where ticks like to bite – the legs, the ankles, the armpits. Oh, and take a tick remover just in case you do become unsuspecting prey.
The European adder (Vipera berus) once again bucks the trend to make serpent-wary travelers uncomfortable in yet another country without ANY OTHER venomous snakes. Yep, it’s the sole dangerous slitherer in the nation, just as it is in the UK and in a whole host of other countries across the region. Party pooper.
A member – as the Latin name implies – of the viper family, these guys usually grow to between 55-75cm. However, the largest specimens on the continent are typically found in Scandinavia (yikes!). They can hit almost a meter in length at full adulthood. The camo and color pattern of an adder can vary a lot from place to place, but you’re usually looking at a black, brown, grey intermingling with zigzags down the main run of the back.
Now…on to the bite. Adders rarely kill humans. It does happen, but, as an example, only 14 deaths have been registered in the UK in the last 100 years. On top of that, Norway, which is just over the sea from Denmark, registers an average of just one death per decade, although bites can be as high as 500 per year. The main symptoms of a bite tend to last between one day and three weeks and can include loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and uncontrolled sweating.
As with the tick, it’s the warm weather that marks the start of adder season. These guys will emerge from winter dens to sun themselves. Unfortunately, they particularly like cleared paths and open spaces, which frequently brings them into contact with hiking humans. Advice on how to avoid an encounter with an adder in Denmark includes making plenty of noise as you walk and keeping dogs under control.
There was a time when it looked to almost all like the European bison was on the verge of extinction. From the start of the 20th century onwards, it only survived in small pockets in the Caucasus Mountains and in the depths of virgin forests in far Eastern Europe. Today, it’s still listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, but populations are growing, and there’s no a new group in Denmark that were brought over the Baltic Sea from Poland.
That new group lives in a fenced off enclosure amid the coastal boglands of the Jutland Peninsula, around Lille Vildmose, where the lush woods mimic the thicker forests found in the bison’s ancestral home on the Poland-Belarus border. They are heavily monitored and protected, and there are big efforts underway to nurture larger herds like the ones that might once have roamed Scandinavia by the thousands.
Look, there’s only about 30 of them in all of Denmark, so these guys are hardly going to mow you down a la Simba in The Lion King. The point is they are beefy customers and could do some damage if they wanted. Or if you could get close enough. They can measure a whopping three meters from snout to rump, weigh in at just shy of a ton, and have curled horns that pack one hefty punch at full charge.
Frankly, though, humans have proved to be much more of a threat to these majestic big mammals than they are to us. Attacks from bison are extremely rare and can often be mitigated by proper behavior in the wild. On the flip side, we’ve driven the creature to near extinction in a world where they have virtually no natural predator!
We’ve all been there. It’s a sunny summer’s day and the windows are wide open. You’re just rustling up a fresh lemonade to take to the garden or cracking a cold beer to drink in the warmth outside. Then, suddenly: Bzzzzzz. A huge wasp-like monstrosity whizzes on into the house and it all goes south in an instant.
The culprit can only be the European hornet (Vespa crabro). It’s one of the most common wasp species in Denmark and usually comes out in the warmer months (who’d want to be in Denmark in the midsummer judging by this guide, eh?). They commonly nest around homes and in urban areas, so are frequently in contact with human populations.
The danger here is the sting. It’s noticeably more powerful than a bee’s sting and can be repeated time and time again, so a single European hornet can cause a lot of damage on their own. However, incidents are rarely more than a moment of pain at the site of contact. That said, there can be complications, especially in patients that are allergic to wasp stings. They run the risk of going into shock, which can lead to hyperventilation and shutdown of key organs.
The main thing to bear in mind about these guys is that they aren’t actually aggressive at all. The general rule is to leave them alone and they will leave you alone. A simple hand action to fan them out of the way is usually enough to dodge any confrontation.
Here’s one for the folks heading to the Skagen sands on the North Sea and the cold waters of the fjords on the Baltic: Weever fish. Although invasive, researchers have revealed surprisingly large populations of these nasty swimmers in the waters of northern Zealand and in the Oresund Sound. That’s bad news for water babies from Copenhagen to Roskilde to Odense!
Basically, you’re on the lookout for a well-camouflaged fish that loves to hide in lumps of sand in the shallows. As you can imagine, humans often don’t see that sort of thing while hitting a beach volleyball or wading out, so there’s regular foot on fish contact.
And there’s the rub. Weevers come with venomous spines all down their back. They can pierce skin in an instant and cause severe pain at the site. There are rarely any more complications than that but, as with wasps, there is the risk of deadly shock in more susceptible patients.
It’s hard to avoid weever fish because they are such good hiders. What’s more, reef shoes rarely have enough thickness to protect against the needle-like spines. The main way to be cautious is to make plenty of movements in the water and disturb the seabed. Any weevers in the vicinity are likely to be scared away in a jiffy.
The most dangerous animals in Denmark – a conclusion
To be honest, there aren’t all that many creatures and critters to be wary of in Denmark. This is hardly snake-riddled Sri Lanka or shark-ringed South Africa. However, there are some species that can make it onto a list of the most dangerous animals in Denmark on account of their venomous stings or spiny backs, along with a single dangerous snake and one hefty European bison.