Sweden is one of Europe’s most spectacularly beautiful countries. With a low population density, it’s full of vast woodlands and mountain ranges that anyone can explore. That’s thanks to the Right to Roam laws, which give the public freedom to discover this breathtaking countryside. However, explorers should be wary of the many dangerous animals in Sweden.
While out walking, it’s not uncommon to come across some of Europe’s largest and most fearsome predators. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could find yourself on the wrong end of an attack. This could turn your pleasant hike into something much more serious.
Plus, the remoteness of this country means it could take a while for medical assistance to arrive. Read this guide on the most dangerous animals in Sweden to discover what to look out for and how to avoid danger.
There are around 3000 brown bears roaming Sweden’s forests so the chances of stumbling upon one are higher than you might think. That’s more than any other country in Europe. What’s more, these giant mammals have the potential to cause serious damage. Fortunately, bears are shy and will tend to run from humans if they spot them.
Weighing up to 300kg, brown bears are hard to miss. They like to hide and spend the winter hibernating but sometimes, they have to come out and look for food. This is when humans may encounter a bear, which can potentially lead to an attack. That’s a fight you’re never going to win.
If you come across this beautiful creature, the key is to keep looking at them while you slowly back away. As you do so, consider dropping some food or clothing items. They’ll stop to sniff this, leaving you with more time to make your escape. Don’t run, though, or they might chase you. Just stay calm, don’t make sudden movements, and they’ll likely leave you alone.
Snakes in Sweden, like across all of Europe, are generally harmless. Try not to disturb them and you’ll have no problems. Some can be aggressive and will bite if necessary. This is unlikely to cause you any harm, though. There’s just one species to be particularly cautious of: the European adder. This is the only venomous snake in the country.
As a result, you could suffer some serious pain if one bites you. Although most people only experience minor itching when bitten by an adder, many people have an adverse reaction. You might not even realize you’re allergic to them but if you are, the consequences could be deadly. Thankfully, there hasn’t been an adder-related death since 1975, meaning that this event is rare. That’s thanks to improved anti-venom medicine.
An adder is fairly large, with brown and black scales. When spotting any snake with these features, don’t go near it. If you’re very old, have young children, or have a weakened immune system due to illness, then you need to be particularly careful to avoid a bite.
Wolverines are incredibly rare and tend to hide in the more remote corners of Sweden, far from humans. However, there’s every chance you might spot one on your adventures through the Swedish countryside. If you do, be sure to give them space. They can become aggressive if they feel threatened. That’s why they’re considered among the most dangerous animals in Sweden.
Fortunately, there are no recorded cases of wolverines actually attacking humans. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though, since they’re happy to go after other animals. They’ll likely bark, growl, and snarl as a warning. In this situation, you should back off slowly, without looking away. In a stand-off, wolverines are likely to back down. Just don’t turn your back or they may jump on you from behind, perhaps mistaking you for their pray.
The Swedish wolf is perhaps the country’s most enchanting and mystical creature. You may be drawn to their beauty and attempt to interact with them. Wolves aren’t dogs, though. They are wild animals that will attack if they need to defend themselves. Fatal attacks are rare, with just eight across all of Europe between 1962 and 2002. However, an attack by one or more wolves could leave you with some nasty injuries.
Like bears, wolves are shy and don’t usually want to cause any harm to humans. They will go after other animals like lynx and moose but generally aren’t interested in you. The biggest risk is that they see you in the darkness and mistake you for a moose. Don’t be offended – it can happen to any one of us! The best way to avoid this confusion is to wear brightly colored clothes and make a lot of noise as you walk. It might seem counter-intuitive but trying to stand out, rather than hide, will usually keep wolves well away from you.
Resembling a large housecat, the lynx is a common sight across much of Europe. You’ll find them as far south as Portugal and as far north as Sweden. Although they hunt small mammals like rabbits and sheep, they’re rarely a threat to humans. Nevertheless, they don’t want to be disturbed. If you corner a lynx, just like if you corner a domesticated cat, they might attack you out of fear.
They may not be the most dangerous animals in Sweden, but their large claws and teeth can leave you with some painful scratches. If you want to leave Sweden without any injuries, then it’s important to know how to spot a lynx so you can avoid them. With their thick brown fur and large pointy ears, lynxes are pretty distinctive. They love to hide in bushes but come out to hunt. Don’t try to trap or interact with the lynx. Instead, give it space to flee and it likely will.
The moose is Sweden’s largest land animal and you’ll find around 350,000 of them wandering the Swedish countryside. This makes them one of the most likely animals you’ll encounter and, therefore, one to be the most wary of. Despite being herbivores, they can become quite aggressive to humans and other animals.
In fact, moose attack humans more often than bears and wolves combined. They can charge at you and hit you with their huge antlers. Other than hippos, moose attack humans more than any other animal in the world. In most instances, this causes minor injuries, but it can be more severe. Furthermore, there’s the risk that moose pose to drivers as they walk on the road. Whether traveling by car or on foot, always be on the lookout for moose and don’t do anything to provoke them.
With a population of over 300,000, wild boar are almost as common in Sweden as moose. Like moose, they’re also one of the most dangerous animals in Sweden. They’re bigger than you think and can run up to 30 mph. On average, wild boar kill 3.8 humans a year, although it’s thought that the real figure is higher than this. Until recently, many wild boar deaths weren’t properly recorded as such.
A wild boar will run at you and try to trip you up. They’ll then use their tusks to cause damage and may keep charging if you can still move after the first attack. That’s why 15% of boar attacks are fatal. Staying safe is simple: keep your distance from wild boar so that they don’t feel threatened.
What is the most dangerous animal in Sweden?
The most dangerous animal in Sweden is, perhaps surprisingly, the moose. Bears and wolves may look scary but they’re comparatively rare and will give humans a wide berth. Moose, meanwhile, are much more common and cause around 4500 car crashes a year, resulting in 10-15 fatalities.
Are there dangerous snakes in Sweden?
Most snakes in Sweden are harmless but there’s one dangerous species to be wary of: the adder. It’s Sweden’s only venomous snake. Most of the time, a bite will only cause minor pain but if you’re ill, very old, or very young, then the effects could be much more serious.
Are there dangerous spiders in Sweden?
Sweden has over 700 species of spiders, almost all of which are perfectly harmless. However, in recent years, the black widow spider has been spotted. It’s never killed in Sweden but if bitten, seek medical attention as soon as possible, since its venom is some of the most powerful in the world.
Are mosquitoes in Sweden dangerous?
Sweden is home to 47 species of mosquito, 45 of which will happily give you a nasty bite. However, they don’t carry disease so getting bitten by a mosquito is not dangerous. It can cause irritation, though, so use mosquito repellent to keep them away from you.