Spiders and Snakes: The Dangerous Wildlife of Bali

Pleasant weather and lush vegetation not only create a beautiful backdrop for Instagram photos but also provide a fertile ground for a diverse array of animals, insects, and reptiles. However, not all of them are as friendly as the Balinese people. Let's find out what to be wary of on this paradise island.

Dangerous animals

Monkeys

While they are typically not found in our countries, from cartoons and Disney movies, we know them as cute, fluffy creatures that pose no threat and amusingly frolic around. In reality, they are cunning, malicious, and crafty creatures with sharp fangs. Moreover, they can share various diseases and, without vaccination, even deadly rabies. If bitten by a monkey (or any animal), seek medical attention immediately, even if the wound appears minor. Monkeys can be aggressive, especially in groups, showing no fear. They can easily snatch food, water, glasses, phones, earrings, or anything they fancy. In Monkey Forest, Ubud, some monkeys reportedly collaborate with locals, stealing items and returning them for a financial reward. If you're keen on observing monkeys, be cautious and keep shiny items hidden.

Balinese Dogs

Balinese dogs, or "balidogs," as they are called, aren't always pleasant or cute. Firstly, they can serve as carriers of scabies, demodicosis, fungal infections, bacterial infections, fleas, and lice. Though not frequent, it's advisable to wash hands thoroughly after contact with a dog. Secondly, they might cause accidents while riding a scooter, displaying an unexplained passion for lying on roads, especially at night, such as the road from Canggu to Ubud. Lastly, they, like any dogs, can be biters and aggressive. In packs, they pose a greater danger; for instance, last year, a pack of dogs attacked an Australian. They are also potential carriers of rabies. Even after minor bites, it's crucial to consult a doctor and possibly undergo a series of unpleasant shots.

Cats

Cats, the adorable ones, are meant to be petted. However, they also transmit diseases like dermatophytosis, feline scabies, fleas, and lice, the amusing toxoplasmosis virus (which makes people unconditionally love cats), and can spread rabies. The simple solution is to practice hygiene after contact with any animals, especially stray ones.

Snakes

Bali is home to a vast array of snakes, approximately 46 species. They may look frightening, hiss, and slither, but only seven of them pose a deadly threat: the king cobra, kraits, nagas, pit vipers, vipers, and kuffiyas. While most other snakes can also be venomous, their venom is unlikely to be fatal. The good news is that snakes are generally afraid of humans and won't attack unless provoked. If a snake enters your home, call a specialized service to handle it. Do not attempt to test your reflexes against a snake; chances are, the snake will be quicker. If you have a cat, it might help. To avoid snake bites in forests, wear proper shoes, use sneakers, and carry a flashlight at night, as snakes fear and avoid light. Snakes are adept at camouflage, and you might not notice them up close. If bitten, do not attempt to suck out the venom; instead, try not to move the affected limb, seek immediate help, go to the hospital, drink plenty of fluids, and if possible, take a photo with the snake for identification, assisting doctors in choosing the right antivenom.
When bitten by a snake, seek medical attention regardless; the bite may not be venomous but could contain infection, and antibiotics won't hurt.

Winged Creatures: Bees, Wasps, and Hornets

With bees, wasps, and hornets, it's more or less clear – avoid disturbing them or their nests, and they are unlikely to bother you. There are plenty of wild and not-so-wild bees in Bali. In Ubud, a swarm visited me every evening, yet I was never stung. If you are less fortunate, follow these steps: check if the stinger is left in the bite area, remove it, treat the wound with antiseptic, apply a cold compress, and drink plenty of fluids. Just in case, take an antihistamine, as an allergic reaction is possible. If allergies manifest and escalate, head to the hospital immediately; it could be a severe allergic reaction. Consult a doctor if the bite occurs in the eye, inside the mouth, or throat, as even a minor swelling in these areas can be dangerous. Allergic reactions to these winged creatures occur in about two percent of people.
Bali hosts three scorpion species, and none of them are deadly unless you are allergic to their stings. You'll find out soon after being stung. If possible, photograph the scorpion to assist doctors in choosing treatment. If there's no reaction, the bite can still be extremely painful, causing local paralysis and pain. In any case, it's advisable to seek medical attention. If a scorpion bites a child or an elderly person, rush to the hospital; they are at risk, and bites can be genuinely dangerous for them.
After a scorpion bite, wash the wound with soap, apply a cold compress, take an antihistamine, elevate the limb to be approximately at heart level, and take a pain reliever.
If ants invade your home, eliminate them promptly using local Baygon insecticide. They either consume your furniture or attempt to steal your food. Did you know they are the strongest living creatures on the planet? That's right, each will carry away a portion, and there goes your lunch. If that fails, they may simply try to bite you. Besides the annoying buzzing and biting, they spread the unpleasant dengue fever. If you're heading into the forest, use repellents available in stores like Indomaret and AlfaMart. Since the beginning of 2023, Bali has recorded 2500 cases. If you experience symptoms such as fever, enlarged lymph nodes, a vivid red rash, joint pain, and muscle pain, seek medical attention.
Photo:  greeners.co
Small flying insects, primarily found in rice fields, may enter homes. Unpleasantly, attempting to crush or swat them leaves serious, long-lasting chemical burns. If you notice an encounter, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water. If some time has passed, visit a pharmacy, describe it as a "tomcat," and you'll be given a special ointment for burn treatment. While they can be quite aggressive, dealing with them is generally manageable. Some individuals can reach substantial sizes, up to 20 centimeters. Their bites are extremely painful, and there's no antivenom. The good news is that their venom won't kill you. You can take pain relievers and apply lidocaine to the affected area. Mostly, you'll have to endure; symptoms should subside within 48 hours. Nevertheless, it's advisable to consult doctors just in case.
Yes, those huge, mustached creatures, the size of a matchbox, that can also fly. They are so large that they even walk loudly. Due to their aerial mobility, they are virtually omnipresent. They pose no harm to humans, except for deep psychological trauma. If your home is infested, try contacting pest control services – there are plenty of such services on the island. They'll also rid you of ants and flies.
Bali doesn't harbor spiders dangerous to humans, but it hosts some of the largest, jumping, and beautiful ones. The Huntsman spider, for instance, can grow up to 30 centimeters, counting those visually unpleasant multi-jointed legs. While their venom can cause discomfort, it is not dangerous to humans. Besides, they don't see us as prey since humans usually don't fit in their webs. If bitten, wash the area with soap and water, apply a cold compress, and use pain relievers. Of course, if allergic reactions occur, consult doctors.

Underwater Warnings: Bali's Fascinating yet Hazardous Creatures

The appearance of this fish makes it clear that touching it is not advisable. It's genuinely beautiful, but it's better to observe from a distance. The sharp spines on its fins contain a potent protein poison. It won't kill you, but it guarantees an extremely unpleasant time. After an encounter, remove the remnants of the spines from the wound using gloves, wash the wound with soap and water, and immerse the area in very hot water, around 60 degrees Celsius. The protein poison tends to denature at high temperatures. Take pain relievers, and as a precaution, make sure you have a tetanus shot.
Stonefish (wart fish) - the most venomous fish globally. Unlike the extravagant and colorful butterflyfish, the stonefish is incredibly effective in camouflage. Hence the name. Contact with it can even lead to a lethal outcome. The poison, like that of the lionfish, is protein-based. Treat the wound similarly, and after, seek immediate medical help.An incredibly beautiful and equally dangerous octopus. These creatures are quite small, around 15-20 cm, and are found in coral reefs, including those around Bali. Sometimes they can be spotted during low tides in lagoons. You definitely don't want to play or touch them. Upon seeing you, they will beautifully shimmer in all the colors of the rainbow, attempting to instill fear. While their display might be underwhelming, their venom is potent enough to bring down 26 adults. In case of an encounter, perform artificial lung ventilation until medical professionals arrive – vital because the venom is paralyzing. However, don't let this deter you from the sea; there have been only 18 deaths globally from encounters with this marine inhabitant, as it swiftly swims away at the first sign of danger.
The seas around the island host various shark species: blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, gray reef sharks, Balinese cat sharks, angel sharks, and even great white sharks. Sharks generally don't attack humans, as we aren't part of their food chain. No need to fear or panic upon encountering a shark; just respect its personal space. Diving attractions involving encounters with numerous sharks are popular and safe. Predatory fish don't see this as a lunch opportunity. Since 1990, Bali has recorded only five shark attacks on humans, none of them fatal. If a shark attacks, defend yourself using a surfboard, diving gear, or even fishing equipment. Playing dead won't work; active actions are necessary. Once possible, get to the shore or a boat. If bitten, try to slow bleeding with a tight bandage above the bite, and immediately head to the hospital, regardless of bite size or severity. Wrapping the victim in a blanket to reduce heat loss is advisable.
In conclusion, the advice is simple: observe wildlife from a distance, avoid touching or irritating local inhabitants, no matter how cute and beautiful they may be. Following these guidelines will likely result in only pleasant memories of your encounters.
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