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Snakes in Croatia

Are there snakes in Croatia? The answer is yes, but not many are in fact poisonous.

There are around 15 different varieties of snakes living in Croatia, but only three of those are venomous.

However, there are a number of factors which play a part in the effectiveness of the poison, including the size of the snake, the age, and size of the person bitten, where the bite on the body was and if the snake had previously caught a prey and emptied poison sacks.

The 3 types of poisonous snakes in Croatia:

Common Adder (called Riđovka in Croatia)

Common European Adder (Photo credit: Benny Trapp under CC)


This snake is not aggressive and usually bites only when alarmed or disturbed. Bites can be very painful but are seldom fatal. The common adder is found in different terrains, habitat. It feeds on small mammals, birds, lizards, and amphibians, and in some cases on spiders, worms, and insects. Adults grow to a total length (including tail) of 60 to 90 cm, and a mass of 50 to 180 g.

Karst Meadow Viper (Planinski žutokrug)

Photo of a Karst Meadow Viper in Mt. Dinara, Croatia (Photo credit: Zwentibold under CC)

This snake is the smallest Viper in Europe, its body is thick, its head narrow, and its appearance rough. Adults average 40–50 cm in total length. There are always several large scales or plates on the top of the head. The prominently keeled dorsal scales are in only 19 rows, and often dark skin shows between them. It is gray, tan, or yellowish with a dark undulating dorsal stripe, which is edged with black.

Nose-horned Viper (Poskok)

Nose-horned Viper (Photo credit: BS Thurner Hof under CC)

The ‘Poskok’ is reputed to be the most dangerous of the European vipers due to its large size, long fangs (up to 13 mm) and high venom toxicity. In Croatia this snake can be found everywhere, from the north to the islands. The snake grows to a maximum total length (body + tail) of 95 cm, although individuals usually measure less than 85 cm.

Their most distinctive characteristic is a single “horn” on the snout, just above the rostral scale. In males, the head has irregular dark brown, dark gray, or black markings. A thick, black stripe runs from behind the eye to behind the angle of the jaw. The tongue is usually black, and the iris has a golden or coppery colour. Females have a similar colour pattern, except that it is less distinct and contrasting.

If you do ever get bitten by one of these in Croatia then you should lay still and immobilize the arm or leg where the bite is to try to prevent the poison from spreading. You should call 112 (nationwide emergency number) immediately or get yourself taken to the nearest hospital.

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