We often get asked what dangerous animals are lurking under Turkey's rocks or in the depths of its oceans. The truth is, unless you're planning to be a rural worker near Turkey's eastern borders, you don't have much to worry about. Anyone wanting a sunny break at their holiday home in Turkey has absolutely nothing to fear.
But since you asked, here's a rundown on Turkey's most dangerous critters.
There are around 12 species of venomous snakes in Turkey, mainly from the viper family. Snakes are shy creatures and you’re unlikely to even spot one while you’re there, let alone get bitten by one. There are very few reports of people dying from snake bites. Most snakes are found in Turkey’s southeastern regions. If you do get bitten, see a doctor immediately. Try and get a look at the snake so the doctor knows what they’re dealing with.
Scorpions are relatively common in Turkey, thanks to its location and climate. The main type of scorpion you will encounter are members of the Buthidae family. Scorpion bites can be painful, but the creatures you’ll find in Turkey rarely deliver fatal stings. Most reports of scorpion bites come from southeastern regions - far from Turkey's holiday home-rich areas. Scorpions usually come out at night. If you get stung, put a cold compress on the site of the bite and see a doctor immediately. Chances are, there’s no need to worry. But unless you’re an expert it’s best not to take any risks.
The bad news: some 5000 centipede bites are reported each year in Turkey. The good news: there’s been only one known fatality. If you do get bitten, wash the bitten area carefully and apply a cold compress. Take a painkiller if it hurts and as it heals, apply a hydrocortisone cream to stop the itching. If it looks like it’s getting infected, see a doctor.
That’s right – there are still a few bears kicking about in Turkey. Namely, the Syrian Brown Bear. To be honest, you’re more likely to win the Euro Millions Jackpot than encounter one, but if you do meet one you’ll know it by its light, straw-coloured fur and dark stripe running across the back. Trust me – you’ll know it when you see it. The Syrian Brown Bear is mostly found in central and western Turkey. It’s endangered so please don’t kill one unless you really have to. It should go without saying but if you’re bitten by a Syrian Brown Bear you will probably need to see a doctor.
There are two main types of jellyfish in the Turkish Mediterranean, the moon jellyfish and the Rhizostoma pulmo. Luckily, neither is dangerous at all and they’re considered more of an eyesore than a threat. However, in recent years a number of new jellyfish species have been spotted in Turkish waters, thanks to the warming of the waters. Rhopilema nomadic, for example, is a Red Sea native that has migrated to the Mediterranean. Its sting can be painful and sometimes dangerous, although very few deaths are reported. If you get stung, get to a doctor, asap.
There are a few venomous spiders in Turkey, including the brown recluse spider and the black widow spider. The latter spider’s very name strikes fear deep into the heart of, well, everyone, but the reality is it’s not only rare to see a black widow spider in Turkey, but also very, very rare to experience a fatal bite from one. You’re most likely to be harmed by a venomous spider if you’re spending a lot of time in rural Turkey, especially close to the eastern borders.
If you get bitten, treat the bite area with a cold compress and a painkiller. If the bite is still swollen after a day, or looks like it’s not improving, see a doctor.