Friday, 8 July 2022

Croatian Snakes - How to Avoid Contact and What to Do If You're Bitten

July the 8th, 2022 - Croatian snakes, much like any other snake, prefer to stay as far away from human activity as possible and truly want absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with you. Croatian snakes are not outwardly aggressive, they do not seek confrontation, and contrary to popular (and unfortunate) belief, they do not bite out of ill will.

If cornered, surprised or in fear, they can and will take a swipe at you. If you see a snake, especially a horned viper, make sure to give it a wide berth and show it some respect. You'll likely get the same back and you'll both merrily go on your way. Here's what to do if do find yourself hiking out in the Dalmatian mountains and happen to sit or step on a snake.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the weather is hot, summer is here, and people are (when not begging for mercy under their air conditioners), spending and more time out exploring nature, hiking, and going to the beach. Some things need to be kept firmly in mind during this time of year, writes N1, and one of them is that Croatian snakes are also out looking for their places under the sun, and they have every right to do so. The Croatian Institute of Public Health has announced what to do in case you do get too close to a snake and how to protect yourself.

Snake bites

There are 14 species of snake living in and around Croatia, of which only three are venomous, the horned viper (Croatian: poskok), the Common European viper/adder (Croatian: ridjovka), and the Meadow viper (Croatian: planinski zutokrug). Although the distinctive horned viper is slightly more venomous than the Common European viper and the Meadow viper, all three of these snakes are less venomous and as such less dangerous than, for example, African or Asian venomous snakes, and their bite is very rarely fatal.

The horned viper (poskok) is ash-gray in colour and grows up to around one metre in length. The head is heart-shaped, with a characteristic ''horn'' on the tip of its nose, from which it draws its rather ominous-sounding name. Along the spine of this snake there is a dark winding line that goes from the head all the way down to the tip of the tail and is characteristic of every viper. There are dark spots running along the side of this line. The horned viper lives mainly in the southern, more rugged Croatian regions.

The Common European viper (ridjovka) is found throughout Europe. It is about 60 to 80 cm long and also has a zigzag line running along its body. There are two species: Vipera berus bosniensis and Vipera pseudoaspis.

If you are bitten by a snake, the most important thing is to determine whether it is venomous or not. Unlike non-venonous snakes, venomous snakes have a triangular head and narrow elliptical eyes. Croatian snakes who are venomous also differ from non-venomous ones in the shape of their bodies, which are short and stocky, in contrast to non-venomous snakes whose bodies are thin and elongated. It should be noted, however, that distinguishing venomous snakes in this way is valid only in Europe and for native European species.

Species from the Viperidae family from North and South America and Asia, such as rattlesnakes, also have a depression between their eyes and nostrils that are used to detect heat. However, European species from the Viperidae family do not have such indentations, so this cannot serve as any sort of criteria for distinguishing venomous and non-venomous snakes in our climate.

When it comes to self-help procedures, it is stated that a bitten individual should absolutely not try to find and seek revenge on the snake. Snakes do not bite out of malice and should not be harmed. Seeking out an irritated or frightened snake again may lead to an additional attack. If the snake is found and killed, which, once again, should absolutely not be done, then it is preferable to bring the body to the hospital with you for accurate identification.

At the bite site, two puncture wounds from the snake's teeth are usually visible, and they're around 6-8 mm apart, although it is possible that there is only one wound or even just a small scratch. The finding of a wound doesn't mean that the venom was injected into the body. According to data, as many as 22% of proven bites have no signs of venom within them.

Symptoms of a snake bite

Pain and swelling appear at the bite site typically occur within two hours. In severe cases and where a lot of venom has entered the body through the wound, the pain appears quickly and is unusually sharp; the swelling also spreads quickly and may be accompanied by severe subcutaneous bleeding. Along with redness, blisters with bloody content may appear on the skin.

Immediately after the bite, almost half of those bitten experience general symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, an overall feeling of weakness and swelling of the regional lymph nodes (this can also occur in and around the groin in the case of a bite in the leg, or in the armpit in the case of a bite in the hand). Pale and cold skin, profuse sweating, a rapid heart rate and drop in blood pressure are signs of shock, which generally develops gradually and is the main cause of death.

Snake bite procedures

If the snake you've been bitten by is not venomous, the wound should be washed very well with water, smeared with antibiotic ointment and wrapped with a clean bandage. It should be checked when the person who was bitten was last vaccinated against tetanus, and if more than five years have passed, a booster vaccination is required.

If you've been bitten by one of the venomous Croatian snakes, the person must remain absolutely still, the slightest of movements should be avoided, and the arm or leg with the bite wound should be immobilised as quickly as possible. Do not try to suck out the venom from the bite site. Any compression of the wound must be performed by specially trained healthcare professionals in extraordinary cases.

It is necessary to take the bitten person to the hospital immediately. In principle, every case of a person being bitten by a snake sees them hospitalised, without thinking too much about whether the snake is venomous or not.

Antidote for snake bites (antiviperinum) comes from horse serum, and contains antibodies that the horse produced after being injected with snake venom. Antiviperinum is given only in hospital conditions intravenously, and only when strictly indicated, since the antiserum itself can cause serious and even life-threatening reactions.

Snake bite prevention

Some snake bites, such as when a person accidentally steps or sits on an unsuspecting and understandably rather disgruntled snake, are almost impossible to prevent. However, there are precautions that can significantly reduce the chance of being bitten by Croatian snakes this summer:

- Leave any snake you might come across minding its own business completely alone. Many people get bitten when trying to kill a snake or get as close to it as possible. This is cruel and absolutely not necessary. You are invading the snake's territory and it, like all animals, should be respected. If you want to take a photo or a video of the snake, do so from further away and use your zoom feature! Snakes usually try to avoid you entirely, and only very rarely do they decide to attack. If a snake bites you, you can almost guarantee that you are the one who has caused it.

- Avoid tall grass and plants if you don't have suitable footwear on (thick leather boots) as Croatian snakes enjoy lying around and hunting their prey there, and use existing paths as much as possible.

- Do not put your hands or feet in places that cannot be seen or inspected properly for any potential threat (for example, don't put your hand in a bush or behind a rock or stone). Do not pick up rocks or pieces of wood unless you are far enough away from a potential snake attack. All of these locations are enjoyed by Croatian snakes, including the horned viper and the Common European viper.

- Be especially careful and prepared if you're into rock and mountain climbing. Croatian snakes are, like all others, cold blooded, and enjoy lying on heated rocks to provide them with energy. They aren't fans of being disturbed by climbers and hikers.

- Dogs and cats (and other animals) are just as susceptible to being fatally harmed by a bite from a venomous snake. If your pet is bitten, take them to an emergency vet immediately for treatment. Do not allow your pet to approach a snake under any circumstance. Curiosity killed the cat, and in this case it will kill the dog too.

- Croatian snakes have no interest in you whatsoever, show them the same grace and don't tempt fate.

How many fatal bites have there been in Croatia so far?

"In the last twenty years or so, only three cases of a snakebite being fatal have been recorded in Croatia, in 2006, 2007 and 2013, they occur sporadically with an average number of cases of 0.2 per year for the analysed period, and the counties in which the cases occurred in Zadar, Split-Dalmatia and Lika-Senj counties", they stated from the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Most of the victims who died from bites from Croatian snakes were adults. The absolute number of recorded deaths from this cause is small, so it can only be concluded that cases of deaths caused by Croatian snakes are extremely rare. Men are more often victims of snake bites than women. The most recorded bites were from the Common European viper (ridjovka), which is the most widespread venomous snake in Europe.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 20 April 2020

First Summer Habitat for Bats Created in Lonjsko Polje Nature Park

ZAGREB, April 20, 2020 - The first bat habitat has been created in the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, and it meets all the criteria for being listed as an internationally important bat shelter according to EUROBATS's Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats.

Warmer weather brings about an increase in the number of insects bats feed on, so after their winter sleep bats start migrating to their summer habitats.

Bats will now for the first time come to their new habitat on the souvenir shop of the visitors' centre in Krapje. Since bats, besides forests and caves, also inhabit old houses made of natural materials, they had started to inhabit the walls of the souvenir shop four years ago.

Seeing as they impact the hygiene of the area, Lonjsko Polje Nature Park experts suggested that a bat habitat be installed. The solution builds on good practice in bat conservation worldwide. Two oak habitats with three chambers each were installed for bats on the wooden facade of the souvenir shop.

"Due to the coronavirus pandemic, bats have been unnecessarily stigmatised in the past few months. Bats in Croatia cannot transmit the virus to humans, and they are of great value for the ecosystem," Valerija Hima, expert manager at Lonjsko Polje Nature Park Public Institution, said on the occasion of International Bat Appreciation Day on April 17.

International Bat Appreciation Day is observed to inform the public about the importance of this protected species. Bats eat several hundreds of mosquitoes daily, contributing to the ecological balance by reducing the number of insects. Some rare bat species help to pollinate plants. There are about 1,400 bat species around the world and they live in nature, but also in urban areas, parks, gardens and buildings.

More nature news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 21 February 2020

MEPs Urge Agriculture Minister to Stop Illegal Captivity of Bears in Croatia

ZAGREB, February 21, 2020 - Fifteen members of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals have appealed in a letter to Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković to ensure that Croatia implements the Animal Protection Act and puts an end to illegal captivity of brown bears.

The Croatian association Friends of Animals said on Friday that the Dutch MEP and chairwoman of the intergroup, Anja Hazekamp recalled in the letter to Minister Vučković that in October 2017 Croatia adopted the Animal Protection Act which bans holding and showing bears outside registered zoological parks and shelters, which included a transition period until 31 December 2018, warning however that bears continue to be illegally held in captivity in Croatia.

Two brown bears are still being held captive as a tourist attraction at the Macola restaurant in Korenica, on the road to the Adriatic coast, in a pound that is not registered either as a zoological park or as an animal shelter, which constitutes illegal captivity under the law and the relevant authorities have not ordered their confiscation.

In addition to the two bears in Korenica, another bear is being kept by a family in Rušćica.

The Croatian association supported the MEPs and called for the immediate relocation of the bears to be shelters.

The MEPs also warned of the need to protect other wildlife, including big cats.

More news about animals in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

1,100 Animals from Dumovec Shelter Found New Home in 2019

ZAGREB, February 2, 2020 - Almost 1,100 animals were adopted in 2019 from the Shelter for Abandoned Animals of the City of Zagreb, better known as Dumovec, just like in 2018, so that 844 dogs and 248 cats found their new home, the shelter said earlier this week.

Most animal adoptions, every fourth, take place on a Saturday.

"A lot of people come because they have seen a photo of a pet on our website, but when they arrive, they 'fall in love' with another one," says the shelter's manager Tatjana Zajec.

She says that they have been warning people for a long time that the pet's appearance is not something they should base their choice on. "A pet should be chosen according to a person's lifestyle. The person and a dog or a cat should 'click' and they should be suitable for each other in the long term," Zajec says.

The number of interventions in which the shelter's fieldwork staff assisted state and city services nearly doubled last year. There were 134 such interventions, with the team mostly helping veterinary inspectors and the police. The team had a total of 2,100 interventions. Besides pets, domestic and wild animals also needed help. Birds required the most interventions, 774 of them.

Wild animals are inspected and treated by the Zagreb Zoo, while the shelter's veterinary clinic takes care of cats and dogs. Its veterinarians performed about 10,000 examinations, vaccinations and surgical procedures.

"In its 19 years the shelter has become a place for the systematic care of abandoned animals. Our staff are on call 24 hours a day so that injured animals could receive the appropriate care even in the middle of the night. The current needs of abandoned animals in Zagreb exceed our capacities. We therefore hope that owners will become more responsible toward their pets and that we will be able to expand our dog and cat housing capacity as soon as possible," said Damir Skok, the director of Zagreb Zoo, which includes the Dumovec shelter.

More news about animals can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Romanian Lynx Released in Risnjak National Park

Doru has arrived at the Risnjak National Park, whose gorgeous forests will be his new home. It is the first of the four lynxes to be settled in Croatia as part of the international LIFE Lynx project, reports Jutarnji List on May 5, 2019.

The project aims to prevent the extinction of the lynx population in the Dinarides, which will be achieved by settling fourteen lynxes in Croatia and Slovenia over the next five years. The local community is small and isolated, and mating among close relatives threatens its survival. The only solution is the colonisation with new animals.

“We are delighted that, after many years of preparations, we have welcomed this important event for the preservation of Croatian biodiversity. In the late 19th century, lynxes disappeared from our forests, but hunters and foresters brought them back in 1973. Now it is up to us to continue with the fight to preserve these beautiful beasts,” said Tomislav Gomerčić from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb.

The project of the settling of lynxes in Croatia is carried out by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Zagreb, the Karlovac Polytechnic and the BIOM association, with the support of the Risnjak National Park and the Nature of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County public institution.

Doru, a four-year-old male, weights twenty-one kilograms and was caught in late February in the Romanian forests. He spent two months in quarantine to ensure he did not transmit infectious diseases to the new habitat.

“We are glad that the among the proposed names, the people have selected Doru, which in Romanian means ‘necessary, desired.’ His name thus best describes the importance of this lynx for our population and at the same time represents an act of gratitude to our Rumanian partners,” said Miljenko Gašparac, director of the Risnjak National Park.

In order for Doru to arrive safely in Croatia, special transport was organised. “Since we are an institution with great experience in transporting various animal species and participating in a number of nature conservation projects, we are glad to have been able to assist with the transport of the lynx from Romania,” said Damir Skok, director of the Zagreb Zoo.

Among the few who attended the release of Doru were Primorje-Gorski Kotar County prefect Zlatko Komadina, president of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar Hunting Association Josip Malnar and representatives of hunting associations who expressed their support for this project.

“Doru’s movements will be followed by a telemetry collar which uses satellite to determine the location of the animal and sends us the coordinates. We hope that the genetic analysis next season will confirm that Doru has ensured the survival of our lynx population,” said Ivana Selanec from the BIOM association.

Due to the lifestyle of the lynx, it is difficult to determine the number of animals living in the region precisely, but it is estimated that between 40 and 60 animals live in Croatia and only about 20 in Slovenia.

Translated from Jutarnji List.

More news about the national parks can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Citizens Called to Vote on Name for Lynx to Be Released on Risnjak

ZAGREB, April 2, 2019 - As part of the LIFE Lynx project which has been launched to prevent the extinction of the lynx population in the Dinaric Alps, the BIOM association has called on citizens to vote on a name for the first of four lynxes to be released in the Risnjak National Park.

The lynx that will soon be released in Risnjak was captured in Romania on March 4 and there are currently five proposed names and the public is invited to vote for the best name at the following link,, BIOM said in a press release.

The LIFE Lynx project team in cooperation with the staff at the Risnjak National Park have proposed that the lynx be called Dora.

"The name Doru in Romanian means 'needed' and this lynx certainly is needed for the Croatian lynx population. The Romanian name has been suggested as a sign of our gratitude to our Romanian colleagues and experts who have donated the lynx through this project in an effort to expand Croatia's lynx population," the press release said.

The other proposed names are Grof, Furman, Max and Oskar.

Once the lynx is named and it will be released in Croatia, the animal's movements will be under surveillance via a long-range telemetry tracking collar which will be able to locate the lynx's several times during the day.

Croatia's endangered lynx population is being researched with the assistance of photo-traps set up in typical habitat for the animal and scientists have so far identified 40 adult animals in Croatia, BIOM said.

More news about Croatia’s national parks can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Animal Friends Call for Establishing Animal Protection Inspectorate

ZAGREB, February 4, 2019 - The association called Animal Friends Croatia on Monday released a list of about 45 high-profile cases of animal torture and killing in 2018, stressing that it is necessary to establish an animal protection inspectorate and adopt an animal protection law.

This nongovernmental organisation said in a press release that misdemeanour and criminal offences committed against animals in 2018 hadn't increased in number compared to 2017, however information about these cases has become more accessible to the public which has led to growing awareness of the necessity to prevent and punish these misdeeds.

"In addition to cases of sadistic abuse against animals, they are often suffering and dying due to human irresponsibility or attempts to get rid of unwanted litters by drowning, suffocating, burying them alive and other brutal methods," said Ivana Lunka of the "Animal Friends Croatia" association.

She added that only an animal protection law could possibly lead to the reduction of animal abuse incidence.

The NGO also advocates the regulation of compulsory sterilisation and follow-ups on micro-chipped animals and punishment of perpetrators of animal abuse.

"Even though procedures prescribe fines from 50,000 kuna to 80,000 kuna for misdemeanour offences, fines for animal abusers are still low. Criminal law prescribes jail terms of up to one year for animal abusers, however, the courts in most cases deliver conditional sentences," the association underscored.

Animal Friends is a non-profit organisation, founded in 2001 with the aim to promote animal protection and animal rights as well as veganism, as ethical, ecological and healthy lifestyle.

More news on the protection of animals in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

(VIDEO) In Dramatic Operation, Vukovar Firefighters Make a Rescue in Frozen River

“I wasn’t cold; there was no special danger, we know that part of the river well.” This is how Denis Kovačić, a humble firefighter from Vukovar, commented on the rescue of a dog from the Stara Vuka river in Vukovar, reports Večernji List on January 27, 2019.

He is a dog owner himself, and he asked his colleagues to let him save the dog. “I was not afraid to come close to her, it was enough for me to look into her eyes and everything was clear. She just needed to be rescued from cold water; she could not bark anymore...” Asked if he was thinking about whether something might go wrong, Denis said there is no room for such thoughts.

"We know the depth of the river. It is about a metre deep in that area. If the dog refused to stay on the mattress, I would have swum to get her. There are security procedures as you saw, we used three ropes, and four or five people were watching out for me. We do this kind of training. A dog can survive in cold water for about 15 minutes, and a child or an adult considerably less. After we were pulled to the shore, I immediately sent the owner home to warm up the dog.”

The Vukovar firefighters are well prepared for such situations, thanks to their commander Zdenko Jukić, who made sure they have expensive firefighting equipment for extreme conditions, which enables them to stay in the cold water for up to an hour. “Let the citizens know that we are well-trained for their security in extreme situations,” Denis added.

The owner of the dog, who released the video of the rescue on his Facebook profile, tried to pull the dog to the river bank himself. But the ice near the bank was too thin and was cracking. Fortunately, he called in the Vukovar firefighters.

The dog is named Lea, she weighs 24 kg and was found in the streets four years ago, when she was two months old. “We came just 3 to 4 minutes after receiving the call, but we do not know how long the dog was in cold water before that. We did not do anything heroic, we have been in much worse situations. We are happy for every happy outcome and a saved life," said Denis.

More news about Croatia’s firefighters can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Linda Draškić).

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Woman from Đurđevac Bequests 3 Million Kuna to Her Cats

In recent days, the town of Đurđevac in Koprivnica-Križevci County has received 30,000 dollars, or more than 195,000 kuna, as a bequest from Marija Horvatek, a woman from Đurđevac who moved to Chicago in the United States several decades ago. Having recently died, she left part of her inheritance to her hometown to help the children of Đurđevac with the money, reports on November 8, 2018.

“We have decided to use the money to buy musical instruments for children so we can create happiness and joy in children,” said Đurđevac Mayor Hrvoje Janči.

Apart from her hometown, she also left something to her relatives. Some of them still remember her. “In one of the letters she used to send to her mother Katica, Mara wrote that she would leave her whole fortune to my mother,” said one of them. Still, the plans seem to have changed in the meantime.

The largest party of the inheritance has been bequeathed to her five cats. They have received as much as 470,000 dollars or just over three million kuna. They will be entitled to use these funds until their death. They are being cared for by a woman called Eva Barcelona, who will be able to spend the money on their behalf.

The five cats have inherited all the furniture in the house, cars, jewellery, silverware, books, and all the other property owned by Horvatek in the United States. The rich cat lover died in late December 2016, but the legal procedures concerning the implementation of her last will and testament lasted for almost two years.

As for Đurđevac, the town seems to have everything going for it at the moment. This year it will record its highest ever budget revenues, and now the town authorities have additional 30,000 dollars to spend on children.

If you want to read more lifestyle stories, click here.

Translated from

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Lipizzaner Horses Star in “Protected Horse Breeds” Stamp Series

The Croatian Post has published a special stamp from the “Protected Horse Breeds” series which features the Lipizzaner motif, announced the Croatian Post. The stamp has a nominal value of 15 kuna and will be printed in 30,000 copies. The author of the design is Vladimir Buzolić-Stegu from Zagreb and the stamp was made according to a photograph made by Domagoj Topić, reports on November 7, 2018.

The project was realised in cooperation with the State Stables of Đakovo and Lipik. The Croatian Post will also issue the first day of issue envelope (FDC). The stamp and the envelope can be purchased at the Croatian Post’s internet store at The first-day stamp will be used on 7 and 8 November at the post office in Jurišićeva Street in Zagreb.

The history of the Lipizzaner horse breed began in 1580 at the Lipica stables in Slovenia, at the time the official stables of the Austrian court. The Lipizzaner is a strong horse suitable for riding, with height up to 160 cm, characterized by good temperament. Its walk is graceful and high. They mostly have white hair, but some have brown and black hair. Interesting, they are never born white, but they become white as they get older.

Today, there are eight male and 65 female lines of the Lipizzaner. The male lines are Conversano, Favory, Maestoso, Neapolitan, Pluto, Siglavy, Tulipan and Incitato.

The breeding of the Lipizzaner in Croatia is linked to the state stables in Đakovo and Lipik, which make up the core of the breeding efforts, as well as to Slavonia, where the private breeding is part of the village life and folk customs, with numerous public events and sporting competitions in driving and riding.

Because of this, the Ministry of Culture issued a proclamation in 2017 making the tradition of the Lipizzaner breeding in Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem part of the intangible cultural heritage of Croatia and registering it in the Register of Cultural Property of the Republic of Croatia – The List of Protected Cultural Goods.

For more lifestyle stories, click here.

Translated from

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