0Does Crete have dangerous wildlife?

Crete is home to lots of unique and inter­est­ing wild­life, but the first ques­tion you might have is does any of it pose a threat to tour­ists. The simple answer is no, but as usu­al it is worth know­ing a little more…

Snakes

There are 4 spe­cies of snake on Crete. None of them pose any danger to humans

Spiders & Scorpions

There are some the­or­et­ic­ally venom­ous spiders on Crete but I have been unable to loc­ate any reports of any caus­ing harm to humans. The only reports of harm to humans from spiders on Crete are related to small “jump­ing spiders” that can bite at night and the bite can fre­quently become infec­ted which requires treat­ment. The bite itself is not venom­ous and the num­ber of reports are very low.
There are sev­er­al spe­cies of scor­pi­ons on Crete and their stings can be pain­ful but are very unlikely to cause last­ing dam­age unless you are unlucky enough to be aller­gic. In nearly 40 years of vis­it­ing Crete I have nev­er seen one.

Sharks

The Medi­ter­ranean is home to many spe­cies of shark includ­ing large ones that have been known to attack humans in oth­er parts of the world. How­ever they are very rarely seen close to shore and there are no known reports of shark attacks near Crete. Shark attacks are glob­ally very rare and gen­er­ally occur in areas where sharks are fed “chum” to attract them for cage divers to see. This is an activ­ity that does not occur on Crete.

Lionfish

Lion­fish are found in the sea around Crete — I have per­son­ally seen them on a num­ber of occa­sions. They are venom­ous and can sting but are highly unlikely to do so unless sig­ni­fic­antly threatened. As they are faster and more agile than you in the water it is quite hard to threaten them acci­dent­ally. Their sting is very unlikely to cause last­ing dam­age to a healthy human but it is extremely pain­ful and well worth avoid­ing — admire them from a safe dis­tance.

Sea Urchins

There are lots of sea urchins in the sea around Crete and step­ping on them is very unpleas­ant, but not harm­ful in the long term. A little care is all it takes to avoid them which is best for both you and them.

Scorpion fish & weaver fish

These fish live on the bot­tom of the sea and are unlikely to both­er you unless severely threatened. They both have a pain­ful sting but cause no long term harm unless you are unlucky enough to be aller­gic

Jellyfish

Jelly­fish do occur in the sea around Crete but are rare due to the nat­ur­al cur­rents. The ones that are occa­sion­ally encountered can cause irrit­at­ing stings sim­il­ar to nettles but pose no last­ing danger. There are very few recor­ded sight­ings of dan­ger­ous jelly­fish any­where in the Medi­ter­ranean.

Dogs

There are many stray dogs on Crete but the ones found in pop­u­lated areas have learned to behave as the loc­al pop­u­la­tion would likely kill any anim­al act­ing dan­ger­ously. Dogs seen up in the moun­tains can be aggress­ive but are usu­ally chained up and seen at a dis­tance from a car win­dow. There have been no repor­ted cases of rabies on Crete.

Badgers!

There are badgers on Crete and if threatened they could cause not­able harm to a human. How­ever the badgers are rare and live in isol­ated envir­on­ments away from humans. The only cir­cum­stance where you might threaten one would be if you were to enter an area where it had off­spring, e.g. an isol­ated moun­tain cave. There are no known reports of attacks on humans by badgers in Crete.

Bears, Wolves

There are no bears or wolves on Crete. They can be found in the moun­tains of the main­land of north­ern Greece and neigh­bour­ing balkan coun­tries but even there they are very rare.

Birds

No birds pose a genu­ine threat to humans any­where in the world. The largest bird on Crete is the lam­mergei­er or bearded vul­ture, which is extremely rare. Des­pite myth to the con­trary, like oth­er vul­tures the lam­mergei­er does not attack or eat liv­ing anim­als, it col­lects the bones of dead anim­als, which it drops from great heights to break open, and then swal­lows the pieces which are diges­ted by extremely acid­ic digest­ive juices.

Wasps, Bees, Hornets

Crete has all of these fly­ing insects. The bees are as friendly as else­where and pro­duce fam­ous and superb honey. The wasps are very rarely prob­lem­at­ic, although they can be a nuis­ance when eat­ing out­door in some moun­tain tav­ernas dur­ing day­light hours. The ones most often seen are not the clas­sic “yel­low­jack­et” wasps that fre­quently sting people in north­ern Europe in autumn. Hor­nets do occur in Crete and their sting is exceed­ingly unpleas­ant, but mer­ci­fully rare. I am only aware of 1 case of hor­net sting in Crete amongst the large group of res­id­ents I know. If you do encounter hor­nets the best policy is to leave them to it and go else­where — they are unlikely to fol­low. The one key thing to think about with regard to sting­ing insects is to always decant your drinks into a glass. If you usu­ally drink your beer / cola from a can beware that a wasp that has flown into it can­not be seen and may sting you in the throat if you acci­dent­ally swal­low it. Whilst highly unlikely, this could also prove fatal if it were to cause a sig­ni­fic­ant swell­ing (as if often the case with stings). This is good prac­tice whenev­er drink­ing from a can out­door regard­less of what coun­try you are in.

Mosquitoes

Crete does unfor­tu­nately suf­fer from mos­qui­toes. Some years they are mer­ci­fully low in num­ber (if there has been a heat­wave above 40C it will usu­ally kill the major­ity of them are they are unable to stay cool). They tend to bite at night and can be repelled reas­on­ably effect­ively with stand­ard repel­lent. I have found that drink­ing ton­ic water con­tain­ing quin­ine is also an effect­ive way to keep them away, as is drink­ing tsikoud­ia (Raki). Lastly, mos­qui­toes find fly­ing dif­fi­cult in windy con­di­tions so a good power ceil­ing fan is bet­ter at keep­ing them away at night than using air con­di­tion­ing. If you have a good fan you may find the air con­di­tion­ing is com­fort­able set to as high as 25C which is also more pleas­ant than a more power­ful set­ting as the dehu­mid­i­fied air is less pleas­ant and less healthy to breathe.

Green shield bugs

There are small green beetles on Crete that are rumoured to release a ter­rible smell if killed, or in even if touched. There are many spe­cies of shield bug and I am yet to encounter one that pro­duces any smell. If you encounter one the best bet would be to trap it with a glass and paper and release it out­side.

Cockroaches

There are plenty of cock­roaches on Crete. They can­’t cause any dir­ect harm but, like flies, they do spread dis­ease so they are undesir­able neigh­bours. They can be eas­ily killed but if a female is preg­nant this can dis­trib­ute her eggs which are barely large enough to see, and so tend to get spread around on your shoe and may later hatch so it is best to get the ‘roach out­side before dis­patch­ing it.

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