With picturesque, charming villages nestled amongst a backdrop of rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, Austria is truly a sight to behold.
However, with so much beauty and lush landscape on offer, it’s no wonder a few members of the animal kingdom are also drawn to these parts. While Austria has its fair share of sweet furry creatures (like the adorable Alpine marmot), it also hosts several that may not make you feel quite as warm and fuzzy.
Although, while there are a few terrifying prospects lurking around, they are very rare sightings, so for the most part you can just be nibbling on some schnitzel or doing your best Sound of Music homage without a care in the world…but just in case, here are seven of the most dangerous animals in Austria that you may just want to keep in the back of your mind.
Had you been visiting Austria just 15 years ago, wolves would not be something to worry about. Having been eradicated here by the 1800s, it wasn’t until 2008 that reports of wolf sightings in Austria started showing up. They were found to have mainly been migrating from other parts of Europe, such as Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland, however, after making Austria their stomping grounds, pups were being born for the first time in over a century.
To this day there are thought to be around 30 wolves in the Austrian landscape, with the majority of wolf packs being found close to the Czech border and the rest being roamers. With many being found in the Salzburg region, local farmers are calling for the protection of wolves (under European law) to be lifted after livestock being attacked.
However, the good news for the Austrian vacationer is that, firstly, sightings are fairly rare so the likelihood of seeing one is low, and secondly, wolves are cautious animals that generally tend to avoid humans, so unless you’re provoking it or it sees you as a threat to its young, you should be just fine.
Common Viper (Vipera Berus)
So, you may have been hoping that in such a dreamy landscape you’d be free from such nightmarish slitherers, but unfortunately not. The land of the mountains is home to several species of snake, with this guy being one of the most dangerous. Found mainly around hillsides, meadows, woods, and at elevations of up to 1,900 meters in the Alps, this venomous viper is not to be messed with.
With an average length of around 30 inches and taking on several color forms, including gray, brown, and reddish, it is most recognizable due to its distinctive zigzag pattern. Although keen to avoid conflict and often choosing to dart away into the undergrowth, it can take on a mean defensive attitude if stepped on or threatened in any way. So, if you suddenly see a viper form an S shape, this could be the sign of a brewing attack so best to get away as soon as possible.
While bites from this one are rarely fatal, they can cause a nasty case of pain and swelling. In severe cases cardiovascular failure may occur, so, always better to be safe than sorry and avoid it at all costs.
Although these guys may look a little like some of the friendly pigs at the petting zoos, their temperament could not be more different. The European wild boar can weigh up to 200kg and have their own personal daggers in the form of their sharp 12cm tusks.
Mainly found amongst dense vegetation of forested lands, these big-boned animals may look like they’ll take a while to get to you but don’t be fooled, as they can reach speeds of up to 30mph. They are most aggressive around rutting season from November to January and although attacks are not common, there have been several reports of wild boar attacks in recent years, including a very close call with a British ambassador in 2017.
Their typical attack style is to charge at the intended victim, pointing its tusks towards them, which usually results in injuries to the thigh region. However, they are often relentless and will torment the victim until the job is done – if that’s not the ultimate warning to keep on their good side, we don’t know what is.
Okay, so heading out to Alaska or Canada, you may expect to encounter one of these guys but what about Austria? Well, it turns out, even around these parts, you’ve got a chance too. However, the good news is that the brown bear doesn’t make its appearance on the most dangerous animals in Austria list due to its likeliness to be seen. In fact, chances are you could live in Austria and still never catch a glimpse of these deadly predators.
Although there are around 17,000 brown bears throughout mainland Europe, Austria only holds a small population compared to the likes of Romania and Russia. Brown bears were thought to be extinct from around 1850 but reappeared in later years, beginning with a migrant from Slovenia.
So, although encounters are rare, we probably don’t need to tell you that if you did get into a bit of a scuffle with a bear, chances are you wouldn’t live to tell the tale and that’s what has earned it a place on the list. With the European brown bear weighing between 250-400kg, it is significantly less than some of the other grizzlies you could encounter on your worldly travels, however, it still possesses the same powerful jaw and sharp claws of any other bear, so you may just want to keep your wits about you.
Horned Viper (Vipera Ammodytes)
Up next on our list of the most dangerous animals in Austria is another sneaky serpent – the horned viper. Native to southern Austria and the Balkans and one of the most venomous, this guy is pretty easy to spot thanks to its characteristic single horn on the stout. Although differing color patterns for the male and female, both sexes have a zigzag pattern on their back.
Usually preferring to inhabit dry rocky areas with sparse vegetation, it can also be found amongst human settlements, such as farmland and railway embankments. Growing up to one meter in length, they are generally lethargic creatures, however, if threatened or taken by surprise they can deliver a nasty bite. Be wary of any loud hissing as this can be a defensive signal.
Symptoms of a bite from one of these can occur rapidly and can include pain, swelling, and discoloration. Medical attention should be sought immediately as this venom can be pretty toxic.
Although quite stunning creatures and possibly just a bigger version of your pet cat, the lynx finds its way onto the most dangerous animals in Austria list due to its potential aggression and sheer strength.
Although, currently just a handful of Eurasian lynxes reside in Austria, after being reintroduced as part of a project to return them to the Alps. They can now mainly be found in the remote forests of the southern regions. So, unless you’ve taken a serious wrong turn somewhere, you will likely never need to worry about coming across one of these guys or gals.
The Eurasian lynx has a short reddish or brown coat with black spots and can have a body length of up to 47 inches. And the typical footprint is three times that of a domestic cat. These solitary hunters generally live off a diet of deer, birds, and foxes, however, if you were to threaten one of these guys, you may just find yourself being their next meal. And even though lynx attacks are extremely rare, we definitely advise not to take any chances around them.
So, we saved the smallest for last but by no means the least dangerous. Yep, the ticks are amongst the most dangerous animals in Austria. In fact, several warnings have been put out in recent years due to climate change leading to more hospitable conditions for these disease-bearing spider-like creatures.
With Austria being a prime hiking destination, these bloodsuckers pose a serious hazard. Usually found around forest edges and walking tracks at altitudes below 1200m, they can transmit potentially fatal diseases, such as Lyme disease and encephalitis (TBE). Around 70,000 people develop Lyme disease every year in Austria.
To prevent tick bites, always carry a Deet-based repellant with you and try to wear clothing that covers your whole body. If a tick gets onto your skin, it is recommended to use tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as you can.
However, if you do start to develop any symptoms, such as a circular or oval shaped rash around the bite site or flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What is the most dangerous animal in Austria?
The most dangerous animal you could possibly encounter in Austria would have to be the brown bear. Although very unlikely you will ever get up close to one of these here, if you did, an attack could prove fatal. Weighing up to 400kg, these big guys are not to be messed with.
Are there venomous snakes in Austria?
There are several venomous snakes found in the Austrian landscape. These include the common and horned vipers, as well as the Orsini’s viper. The most venomous snakes found in Europe all belong to the viper family.
Are there dangerous spiders in Austria?
There are around 46 species of spider in Austria. However, compared to other parts of Europe, there aren’t too many to fear over in these parts. The yellow sac spider is one of the most feared and prominent in many parts of Austria with a bite known to cause extreme pain and nausea.
Are there wolves in Austria?
Yes, after a long period of extinction, there are now around 30 wolves found in Austria. Thought to have mainly migrated from other parts of Europe, they have now started breeding in Austrian soil. However, sightings are rare and attacks on humans are even rarer due to their avoidant nature.
Want to know what dangerous animals can be found further south? Find out here.