Modern Europe is so tamed that a lot of folks forget that there are still places where animals dictate the rules. Croatia is no exception to this fact. Even though 99% of the time you won’t even notice that, Croatia is home to some pretty dangerous animals.
Let’s start with the biggest and most obvious one, the bear. Bears are common in the center part of Croatia. Well, you couldn’t say they are common common, but they are out there, trust me. Chances are you will not see one even if you look for them. But if you go hiking or mushroom hunting it’s not a bad idea to take a pepper spray with you, just in case. Croatia is also home to lynx (bobcat). Croatian and slovenian bobcats are the only remaining lynx in Europe, and in Croatia it is considered a protected species, so hunting is not an option. It inhabits area around “Gorski kotar”, from Plitvice lakes through Risnjak reservat ups to Slovenia.
The black widow
Yes, the infamous spider is a natural dweller along all of the Croatian coastline. It is rarely seen, and bites even rarer. Still it’s a quite dangerous animal that can kill an infant and put adult in a hospital. Yet, despite myths it’s not deadly, infact only 5% of victims die from the bite, mostly the ones that had bad or no treatment, old people and children that suffered from some sort of complication. Black widows love to stay close to the ground often in grass or under rocks. Bites are often not detected for the first couple of hours and leave a small mark. First symptoms include redness and spasms around the bite area. Spasms slowly spread to the rest of the body. If you detect those symptoms go immediately to the nearest hospital or call the ambulance. Don’t panic, black widow venom is treated very successfully without the need for an antidote. You should be fine in 3-5 days.
There are around 15 species of snake in Croatia, 3 of them are venomous. The Horned viper is the deadliest one. Other 2 are Common European adder and Karst Meadow Viper. Bottom two are almost no threat to people, either because of their nature or due to the fact that their toxin is very weak. In case of a sneak bite, the most important thing is not to panic or run around. Try to stay as calm as possible and not increase heartbeat to slow down the spread of the toxin. Call 112 and that’s it. Croatian hospitals are equipped with antidotes and prepared for those kind of situations.
You will probably get hurt by…
Sea urchin. Yes, small, slow and non aggressive and almost harmful dweller of the sea causes pain for thousands of Croatian tourists. There are 2 types of urchins in Adriatic sea, a shallow water variant and a deep water variant. The deep water variant leaves in a depth of at least 4-5 meters, it has thicker spines and you can’t really get hurt from it. Unfortunately the ones that live in shallow waters are super unpleasant. They have thin spines that breaks even on smallest contact , so even if you try to mess with it with hand, even very carefully you will get hurt. The nasty part of urchins is the fact that spines will pierce you, break and get stuck under your skin. And when you try to remove it with, let’s say pincers, they will break again and get even deeper. The best solution is to carefully crawl out of the sea, go home, get a wet towel and wrap your leg in it. The idea here is that after some time the skin will shrink and ripple from water and expose a spine. Then you can, ever so carefully, pull it out with pincers. The trick is not to grab it to hard, or it will break. If you do nothing you will get infection, so carefully, but by any means possible try to remove it.
Other dangerous animals
If you go fishing, beware of the greater weever or spider fish ( as it is called in Croatian). Most often, inexperienced fishers quickly grab the fish as they pull it out of the sea and get stinged. The weever toxin in non-lethal but it hurts like hell. People often tell that they seriously consider to amputate the arm just to stop the pain. The weever poison is destroyed by heat, so it’s best to soak stinged area in hot water. Often people burn the area with cigarette butts. It maybe sounds crazy but I heard that a lot. In sea there are some other fishes and creatures that could be dangerous. But the encounters are very rare, so I won’t be mentioning them here.
What you will not find in Croatia
Firstly, sharks. There are couple of species of sharks in Mediterranean sea, but they are either small or stay in deep waters and are no threat to humans. Sometimes, bigger sharks do come to Adriatic sea following large ships. But last shark encounter was in the 70’s of last century, so chances are very slim you will be so unlucky. There are also no alligators, dangerous disease transmitting mosquitoes and no blood sucking bats. Even the animals mentioned above are extremely rare, or should I say rare in the places where humans dwell. You should really put some effort to put yourself in a danger.