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Snakes and Spiders in Cyprus - Should You Be Worried?

Exaggeration is a wonderful tool; from the fisherman estimating the size of the ‘one that got away’ to how hot, or cold, the temperature is, we all try to make ourselves important by inflating the truth. The world over, people are fond of exaggerating and to some it’s been elevated to an art form. Cue the expat community on Cyprus and the deadly gauntlet they survive in getting through each day living on that most dangerous of islands…

We’re talking here about snakes and spiders: black, fast moving evil looking snakes and hairy spiders the size of dinner plates with legs as thick as your fingers. Time to debunk a couple of myths and the best way is to compare the island’s reptiles and arachnids to that of the exaggerators’ homeland.

Snakes In Cyprus

Beginning with the snakes, Cyprus has four main varieties; the Blunt Nosed Viper, the Montpellier Snake, the Grass Snake and the Whip Snake. The UK has three varieties too, the Adder, the Grass Snake and the Smooth Snake. So the Grass Snake is common to both countries whilst the Montpellier and Whip Snakes considered harmless. That leaves the score at one all with the UK’s Adder about as venomous as Cyprus’ scarier sounding but still rarely fatal Blunt Nosed Viper. The chances of coming across either is small with both snakes likely to try to make a quiet exit rather than confront a human. More information on Cyprus Snakes.

Spiders In Cyprus

Spiders are the big players in Cyprus with the so called ‘Cyprus Tarantula’ bringing hundreds of expats close to death each year with their aggressive nature and near deadly venom. The truth is a little easier to bear and the spider probably would prefer its proper name of the Wolf Spider. Its size is again the stuff of urban myth with dinner plate spiders shrinking down to a scientist approved 3.5 cm long body with 7cm legs; more saucer than dinner plate! But yes it does bite but only when provoked and even then it’s no worse than a bee sting. More unusually, it has a porcupine-like defence of ejecting irritant hairs from its abdomen which cause a rash not unlike a nettle.

Popular opinion is that it is the only biting spider in Cyprus although rare reports speak of a local sub species of Black Widow Spider. Compare that to the fourteen endemic biting spiders of the UK plus the four common spiders that arrive in fruit consignments which bite and you’ll soon see which is the best country for arachnophobes to live in.

Shaggy dog stories will abound until the end of time but taken with a pinch of salt, you’ll enjoy a danger free stay in Cyprus, but worry just a little bit about going to the garden shed at the bottom of your garden back home – you have been warned!
Kellie Hodge
Posted: June 11, 2012 by Kellie Hodge 6 comments
About the Author -

Travel writer, customer service guru, Kellie knows the ins and outs of car rental and always happy to share her knowledge on our blog. Favourite country to visit: Spain.

Last updated: Friday, July 3, 2020
I was born in Cyprus and I met a Wolf Spider 😊 It was cute
1/22/2017 11:22:24 PM
We have just come back from coral bay and spotted this in the water park in our hotel.
Thought it may be a tarantula
11/5/2016 4:46:57 PM
I visited Skoulli and I have a photo on my my mobile phone of a local hunter holding up a long metal bar horizontally with 2 of these enormous vipers hung over each end like a weighing scale: Dead of course: Both appear to be abot 2.5 metres in length but what surprised me the most was their girth larger than my wrist?? You wouldn't want to be anywhere near these monsters! But if you come across one? Remember to run the other way and fast!! I dont't know of any Viper that can grow this big?
12/30/2015 4:44:14 PM
I spent 4 fantastic years in Cyprus, and at one time or other encountered all of the above (although I only ever saw 2 black widows). Honestly, there is nothing in Cyprus that will kill you (on the exception of anaphylactic shock). As a young wildlife enthusiast, I spent many, many hours looking for as many reptiles and creepy crawlers as I could. The Whip Snakes were pretty common, and I saw several Wolf Spiders, including a house visit from a particularly large one. The Montpellier is a rear fang, so you have to be particularly stupid to be envenomated. My brother once put his hand on a basking one in error, and as he shot one way, the snake shot the other. Cyprus is a truly wonderful place to visit.
1/15/2015 4:13:41 PM
How wrong can this be???? The viper is indeed deadly and to compare it to a adder would be the most foolish thing to do..
11/21/2012 9:02:53 PM
We saw a 'tarantula' in our apartment, it was pretty big and sacred my wife to death. I swept it up and dispatched outside, no problems and still alive to tell the tale.
6/21/2012 9:04:12 PM