The following is my view of Spanish wildlife with the accent on those creatures which can be unpleasant if approached. Awareness of the environment and wildlife of the country in which you intend to live, creates much enjoyment for the enthusiastic climber, camper, nature walker, etc. and for the rest of us it is commonsense to learn about these creatures; knowledge engenders caution and dispels fear.
Few visitors to Spain fully appreciate the size of the country, approximately 1,140 km from Gibraltar/Cadiz to Girona in the east and 888 km from Santander to Almeria in the south. Spain is also the second most mountainous country in Europe. It encompasses the ski resorts of the snowy mountains of the Sierra Nevada, the barren moonscape inland desert of the Almerían Province, the rice paddy fields of Valencia and the Andalucian forests, to name but a few areas of this incredible country.
The Spanish climate and habitat are so varied that all manner of wildlife is sustained from exotic butterflies, flamingos, eagles, bears, lynx, snakes, wolves, etc. to the wild horses of San Lorenzo, Galicia and, in the coastal areas, dolphins, seals, whales, etc.
Below I have endeavoured to outline all of Spain’s dangerous wildlife of which you should be aware. The creatures are spread very widely and, depending upon where you live, will rarely be seen.
If reading these notes on Spanish wildlife makes you have second thoughts about coming to Spain, consider the following. In the many years I have been visiting Spain and the four years I have lived here, the worst I have seen is one lonely 4 ft long whitish snake crossing the road on the outskirts of Javea. I was told it was harmless but didn't try to prove the point. Whereas, as a boy living near the Sussex Downs, I certainly came across the English Adder. I remember hearing of people dying from its bite, but they were always either in ill health or quite old. And, if you're of my age, who goes looking for snakes or bears?
My wife was less fortunate when swimming off Felixstowe when she was just 18. She was lucky to have been pulled from the sea after being stung by a Portuguese Man O War. She was rendered unconscious in the water, dragged out and required hospitalisation.
Generally speaking, wildlife prefers to move away from humans but we should treat all wild creatures with respect.
Personally, I consider Sand Flies, Ticks and Processional Caterpillars to be the worst of Spain’s creatures of nature. Unlike the rest, they don't have the sense to keep away from pets and humans.
Having said that, we and our friends find Spain to be a wonderful place to live and I have yet to hear of anyone giving up and returning to the UK because of the local wildlife.
Other web sights of interest
Fauna of Andalucia
EU Environment Pages
In the event of an emergency, dial the number 112. Multilingual operators are available, just ask for the service you require and explain your problem.
The Red Cross Ambulance Service is also available on 96 525 2525
Also see my web information on emergency travel to hospital when no ambulance is available or contactable.
Centipedes, ticks, caterpillars, scorpions and spiders - they may make your skin crawl, but you need to know what precautions to take for your family and pets.
Learn about Spain's harmful insects and spiders
Slimy and Slithery Animals
Snakes, salamanders and toads all present hazards to people and pets, but with the right precautions need not restrict your enjoyment of the Spanish countryside.
Read about poisonous snakes in Spain
Four Footed and Furry
Spain still has wild terrain suppoerting wolves, bears, wild boar and unique species such as the Iberian Lynx.
Read about Spain's wild land mammals
Sharks, sting rays, jelly fish and other hazards along the Spanish coastline, as well as the seals, whales and dolphins of Spain's coastal waters.
Read about Spain's coastal fauna
Environmental & Conservation Organisations
FAPAS is an organisation set up in 1973 to assist in the many areas of conservation of flora and fauna in Spain. Two of their first projects were the protection of the Griffon Vulture and the Brown Bear.
They also specialise in the recovery and treatment of wounded animals, rehabilitating them and returning them to the wild. FAPAS works in co-operation with GREFA (Grupo para la Recuperacion de la Fauna Autóctona) who have their own veterinary surgeons and wildlife specialists in recovery at their base in Madrid.
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