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!