The fauna in our country is not really that dangerous. In our latitudes we are largely spared from highly poisonous snakes, hunting predators or dangerous spider species. But there are some animals where you should take a closer look. Especially allergy sufferers and people with weakened immune systems can quickly suffer an attack due to the shock caused by a bite or sting. But which animals in Germany should you be particularly careful of?
SMALL, BUT OHO!
Cross spider – The small spiders with the conspicuous marking on their back can be found all over the world. In Germany the subspecies of the garden cross spider is the most common. The animals reach body dimensions of up to 18 millimetres and are thus among the largest arachnids in Europe. Smaller insects usually get caught in the woven webs – but bees, wasps and butterflies are also on their menu. The prey is bitten and spun to serve as a supply. The poison decomposes the insides of the captured animals and pre-digests them. With their short fangs the spiders are not able to penetrate normal human skin. However, it can happen that a bite is noticed on particularly thin skin. The bite is painful, but otherwise not dangerous.
Nurse spider – Despite its quite extensive distribution area, surprisingly little is known about the nurse spider. Coming from the south, individual specimens and smaller groups can be found throughout Germany and even as far south as southern Sweden. However, neither about its hunting behaviour nor about its prey is known. A bite of this spider species can penetrate the skin of a human being and causes pain comparable to that of a wasp sting. Spreading to the affected limbs has also been observed. After about a day the symptoms usually disappear again.
Asp viper – Asp vipers are only found in the southern Black Forest in Germany. Their ancestral home is usually somewhat warmer and extends from the Iberian Peninsula through southern France and Italy to the Adriatic Sea. On their menu are small mammals, lizards and birds. It actually only comes into contact with humans through accidents, mostly while defending its nest. The bite is usually preceded by a clear defensive behaviour. The injected neurotoxin causes severe swelling, pain and can also cause breathing difficulties and heart problems. In Germany, however, only one fatal accident from the 1950s has been documented so far.
Wasps, bees and hornets – no matter what is on the agenda this summer, the yellow-black companions never take long to appear. Many people quickly panic and try to drive the animals away, flapping their arms wildly. The widespread rumour that the animals are aggressive adds a lot to the restlessness. In fact, they only sting when they feel threatened or there is danger for their nests and sticks. The sting itself is not dangerous for most people, but can be quite painful. The skin around the puncture site reddens and swells. However, allergy sufferers can react quite severely. Breathlessness, fever and similar accompanying symptoms are the result. In case of an anaphylactic shock, appropriate countermeasures must be taken immediately.
Shrew – Incredible, but shrews are poisonous! This small animal, which is not a mouse but an insectivore, is one of the few mammals that have venomous glands. Shrews feed mainly on insects and their larvae, but their venom enables them to kill voles, frogs and small snakes. For humans, the bite is not fatal, but can cause considerable pain.