Are there dangerous animals in Croatia?

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Croatia is a country of great nature. As a European country, it has relatively few dangerous animals, and, likely, you will never encounter them. However, learn which they are and how to avoid them.

 

Croatia is a safe country, with almost no violent crimes or animal attacks. In 25 years of independence, only a handful of incidents have been reported. Still, when in nature, especially hiking, the care should be exercised.

Croatia is a country of big three predators: the bear, the wolf, and the lynx. While the latter two are lottery to encounter, the bear is much more common and not so shy. It will also come close to human settlements.

The brown bear
The brown bear from Gorski kotar

You should watch out for the bears especially a mother bear with cubs. This might happen in the mountains of Gorski kotar and Velebit during hiking. Try not to surprise her. Be reasonably loud. In the rare case of an encounter, don’t panic, just turn the other way. In the case of attack, lie on the ground and protect your head with hands. Read more about the bears.

Another protective mother that may be dangerous is a wild boar. Apply the same evasive tactics just as with the bear. Deer during the rut season can be sometimes aggressive and may try to chase you away even attack you. Read more about the deer rut in Kopački rit.

The wild boar
The wild boar from Kopački rit

Some of the most dangerous animals in Croatia are snakes. There are three venomous species like the horned viper (long-nosed viper, nose-horned viper, sand viper) and the common viper (common adder). Vipers can only be found in the central, mountainous parts and karst regions, and along the coast, in Dalmatia, Kvarner, and Istria, but also on some continental mountains like Medvednica above Zagreb, Saoborsko gorje, Kalnik, etc. The third species is meadow viper (Ursini’s viper), found only at remote places Like Dinara. Their bites can be severe and painful but are rarely fatal. Usually, half of the bites are “dry,” in other words without venom injection. If you see those viper snakes, just turn to another direction. Never, never try to kill it or remove it –  accidents usually happen during these actions. In the rare event of the bite don’t cut, suck or try to destroy the venom with heat. Fist of all, calm yourself and then immediately go to the doctor.

the horned viper
The horned viper from the Velebit Mountain

Speaking of venomous animals, there are black widow spiders at some places like Istria, usually in gardens and around fences. Their bites can be severe. There are several species of scorpions and centipedes, especially Megarian banded centipede. They also live mostly in coastal regions.

The Adriatic Sea holds some venomous creatures as well. Some jellyfish species could be nasty, but nothing special compared to tropical species. If you are touched by a poisonous jellyfish the best defense is your urine. Toxic bearded fireworms that have invaded the Adriatic recently got media attention due to the bite. Sea anemones are also advised not to touch. The greater weever fish may hide in the sandy bottom. Its spike is venomous and can cause much pain The poison is term labile, so heat the wound in hot (not too hot) water.

greater weever fish
The greater weever fish

When swimming, be watchful where you step, long needles of the sea urchins may gash your feet of hands.

Sharks that live in Croatia are not dangerous; however, some larger species might stray in Adriatic.

Other animals can harm you too, like a hornet. Don’t fear, however, enjoy nature and just be careful enough.

 

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