Ouch! Dangerous Animals

I thought of this article when Rebecca talked to her family and asked about her uncle who was bitten last year by a snake. It got me to thinking: What else lives in the Philippines that can hurt you, animal wise? A quick search online revealed very little in terms of real information, so I thought that I would look into what creeps and crawls around these islands.

Disregarding the obvious jokes about poisonous politicians or taxi drivers, there are animals here that are better left alone. Most unfortunate encounters occur when these creatures are stepped on or threatened… Remember, most of the time, you are intruding into their territory and home and not the other way around. I think most people have a fascination with wild animals. I mean, let’s face it… Who watches the idiots on Animal Planet running around picking up snakes and spiders without secretly hoping that they’ll see them get bitten? Obviously, I’m not the only one, since those shows certainly have many viewers. People also have fears of these animals, mostly irrational, including myself, as I’ll describe below.

At one time, prior to Spanish colonization, the entire Philippine Archipelago was nearly completely covered by primeval jungle. Today, as a result of deforestation, only about 5% of the country is virgin rainforest, most of which is protected. That is where most of these animals live, and there is no reason to fear encountering them in Manila, Cebu, or Davao. However, there is always the chance that a Cobra could make its’ nest under your house, or that if you visit the provinces, you’ll have an unwelcome encounter. So, my listing of animals best left alone:

Snakes

Olive SnakeThere are around 179 species of snakes present in the Philippines, of which, 14 are poisonous or harmful to Man. One of the world’s most venomous snakes, the Philippine Cobra, is native here, and it definitely is not an animal to mess around with. It is described as aggressive, and is very, very common. Shorter and squatter than the King Cobra, it is very common near rice paddies and anywhere there is food (mice, rats). I have seen a couple of these up on the farm, and if you encounter one, give it a wide berth, since these are spitting Cobras. Also native here, are many species of sea snakes, all of which are also highly poisonous, but shy around people. Some species are amphibious (They are a type of Krait if they go on land, a true sea snake if they stay in water), and can travel on land near water. Unless you step on one while swimming or are fishing and it gets caught in your net, you will most likely never encounter this snake, but if you are unlucky enough to be bitten, you have only around two seconds left to live, so worrying about them won’t do you much good. Speaking of Kraits, there is the common Krait, which, unfortunately for humans, likes to seek shelter in places like sleeping bags or boots. If you camp in the Philippines, it is best to check your shoes and gear before jumping in. The venom of a Krait has 15 times the potency of a Cobra. Wagler’s Pit Viper, green and commonly found in trees, is another one to be aware of. While traipsing through the jungle, that vine you are reaching for might not be a vine… Lesson learned the hard way. Additionally, there are several other vipers present in the country… If it has a triangular head, then leave it alone. To keep from getting bitten, shuffle your feet while walking, and be careful picking up logs and such. Finally, wearing shoes and long pants when walking in snake-infested areas is always a good precaution. (As a side note, at the Abulug cemetery before All Soul’s day each year when the graves are being cleared, Becky’s family nearly always encounter several snakes.)

US Citizenship for child

Spiders

First off… I HATE SPIDERS. Yes, I know they eat bugs. Yes, I know they are mostly harmless. If any come across my path, they are instantly squished. They are evil incarnate and should be wiped from the Earth (And yes, I know about, and have watched with a queasy stomach, the “sport” of Spider Fighting in the province… Why can’t some people be content with cock fighting???). Fortunately, the only truly harmful spider in the Philippines is the Red Back spider (The same species as in Australia), and it is not too common. Unfortunately for those like me with arachniphobia, there  are several different species of a different native nasty here, in the form of a tarantula, known as a Bird Eating spider. I haven’t seen one, and if I ever do, I’ll probably die of a heart attack. It lives in the jungles, eats the birds for which it is named, and its’ legs can reach 10 inches in diameter. YUCK! They are supposedly harmless to humans, but I sure as hell am not going to go try and pick one up.

Scorpions

There are several poisonous scorpions found in the Philippines. Though the stings are painful, they won’t most likely won’t kill you like their African cousins. Again, they eat insects and will leave you alone unless you happen to try and step on it or squash it. These are found in foliage, at the beach, and under logs and such.

Centipedes and Millipedes

There are some really big centipedes in the Philippines, and one of only three documented cases of  “death by centipede” in the world occured here, from the Scolopendrida species. These suckers can grow to 8 inches long, and looking at them, you wouldn’t want to necessarily pick one up. Most bites are not harmful, though they are painful. Additionally, many centipedes and millipedes excrete toxic or caustic substances as a self-defense that can cause blisters or rashes. We have seen several good-sized centipedes at our house in Quezon City (But none of the really big ones, as of yet. Again, common in rural and jungle areas.

Caterpillars and Leeches

Leeches are native throughout the Philippines, and if you venture through rice paddies or work in them, you most likely will have more than a few attach themselves to you. Primary harm to humans is infection from the bites. When Rebecca was young and working in the fields, her grandmother used to pour salt on them to make them let go. As to caterpillars, many, many varieties here can sting, and some can be deadly. Same precautions as with spiders, except that a common hiking guidebook recommended with caterpillars: if it looks poisonous, it most likely is poisonous.

Crocodiles

There are two species of native crocodile in the Philippines. The Asian Freshwater Crocodile is very common, can get quite large, and will try to eat you if it thinks you are food. We frequently see them up in Abulug. Riding in a banca up a river with your hand lolling in the water may not be the best of ideas! The second species of crocodile is the Philippine crocodile, which is usually only a meter or so long, is highly endangered (so you probably won’t see one), and is unknown to hurt humans (more accurately, humans tend to eat the crocodile here).

Things that Swim

There are dozens of species of sharks in Philippine waters, though most don’t consider humans as food and will generally leave you alone. There have been shark attacks here, so precautions like not swimming with open wounds would be wise. In addition to the aforementioned sea snakes, there are moray eels, which have been known to bite divers, stingrays that can sting if you step on them, and many, many species of jellyfish (some deadly). There are also many species of octopus, which have a poisonous bite, but generally shy away from people. Additionally, there is one species of cuttlefish that can kill you with a sting, and the Philippines is also famous as the home of the Lionfish, which is familiar to people who keep aquariums (Those spiny fish which look like they are wearing draperies), and stepping on one would be a really painful and potentially fatal experience. Finally, for those who like to collect seashells, the Cone Shell is native here, and if the animal inside is still alive when you pick up the shell, that will probably be the last time you will ever pick up a seashell (The poison has killed people… at the very least, it is painful). Basic precautions while swimming: If you see the beach littered with jellyfish, don’t go in the water, obey shark warnings in places like Boracay where they are issued, and shuffle your feet while wading to shoo away creatures who live nearby.

Other Animals

There are various reports of encounters with the Philippine Bearcat, but they are so endangered that it is highly unlikely a visitor would encounter one (Disregarding that the local lore has evolved into a legend similar to that of the Chupacabra… Don’t believe everything you hear). There are several species of poisonous frogs in jungle areas, but unless you pick one up or eat one, you are unlikely to be bothered by them. Several coral species are poisonous, but those who dive here already know what to look for in most cases.

Actually, the creature that has caused the most deaths of humans in the Philippines is the smallest and most dangerous: The mosquito. Disease from these little buggers is the biggest wildlife threat the casual visitor is likely to encounter. Common sense precautions should keep you safe from the other creatures. The answer is simple: Watch where you step, where you sit or place your hand, and keep calm.

Post Author: JohnM (207 Posts)

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.


Comments

  1. Bacolod Barry says

    Hi John

    Is rabies in dogs still a problem? I was told that many wild dogs have rabies, but maybe this was told to prevent children from touching them and getting bit.
    For me, the mosquito is more scary than a big spider :-)

    • says

      Yes,, dogs have rabies,, and even humans,, there were some incidents here in batangas where people died because of dog bite,, I myself knew one, the father of my friend died because of dog rabies which entered his wound on his finger while slottering a dog.

    • Han says

      Hi john,

      Just an fyi… Bearcats are not dangerous. They are docile and probly why u wont see them often is because they are nocturnal. Their diet consist of fruits and insects. They are just about the size of a dog and suprisingly you can actually approach them. So i dont think they really belong in this article. :)

      Thanks!

  2. says

    Hi John,

    I've been waiting and looking forward to this article. (I noticed it in drafts.) I grew up in "the woods." Hunting and fishing are in my blood. Well fishing got to hot when got older and lazier. LOL

    I have found it very difficult to find out anything about wildlife in the Philippines. Jessie is defiantly a city girl and has no interest in them though she's a bit more interest now that I have asked her questions. She didn't even know they have deer here.

    You wont find many hunters that are not also conservationist. One of the first things I noticed is the lack of wildlife. Even birds in Cebu cities are not very common. And when you take to the highway, none of the road kill you see in the southern USA. Strange way to notice I suppose but I did.

    There is one bad a$$ jelly fish here. Its tiny and nearly invisible… You probably wont know it stung you until you're dying a few hours later.

    I came close to getting bit by a copperhead many years ago, while hunting and it shook me up. I developed quite a fear or snakes for a while. Then I got to boa's named Alice and Cooper and that that helped me get over it.

    I would love to take to the jungle with a camera. I'm not really into killing things any more, except spiders and dengue carrying mosquitoes, but I'd love to photograph them. I wouldn't head into the jungle without a local that knew what he/she was doing. I grew up in the woods so I knew what to do there but its a wonder I didn't die learning. :)

    If you have any good links on Philippine wildlife and have the time, please email them to me!

    • brian says

      Just spent a year in the Phils .. mostly Mindanao. As a biologist with a lot of herp and ento experience and study I can tell you first hand that there are many organisms that are not even accurately classified in the Phils. If I were to decide on a doctorate … I’d do it there … because there are so many species that are not even classified … or classified incorrectly. So many errors in what is known … and finding new species/subs all the time .. with little actual research behind any of it. While there, I was told of a new species of king cobra … but I did not have time to research it other than to hear it called “silver” cobra. Anyway, the Phils does not really have a lot of wildlife … and yeah, you don’t see roadkill ..mainly because the people eat just about everything that moves short of insects …. and as the article states … I would not be afraid of much there .. aside from dengue and chikungunya (Aedes spp.). I”ve handled a few venomous snakes …. arachnids … a few chilo/diplo -pods … and of course … a few babae sapiens … hehehe. Not much danger there … and I’d take all of it if the they would just get a vaccine for the arbovirus dengue/chikungunya …. don’t worry about malaria … not much of it around anywhere there … though it is there … just not enough to really scare anyone. Going back in about 4 months .. for another year. Peace.

  3. John Miele says

    Rusty: The reason I wrote this is that there is virtually nothing online about wildlife here… very little, and the sites I found were nearly all scientific in nature (I searched on a site with the taxonomic names as the link… went through nearly all of them, for about an hour). I did see some very limited field guides at Amazon and National bookstore for online ordering, though. For tracking wildlife, a printed field guide would be best, I think.

    • Brian Monaghan says

      Hi guys
      i have lived here for almost three years now and we live in the mountain area near sierra madre if you know it, anyway i think i have a few pics (not professional standards) that you might be able to use we get big spiders and snakes up here all the time some other wildlife as well where can i email them to John??? if you want them that is.
      Cheers and merry xmas to all
      Mono

  4. says

    Wow great stuff John. like you I too am arachniphobic. I was bitten in 2006 by a brown recluse and nearly lost my arm.

    I was hospitalized for two weeks and had to have home health dress my wound for another month after that.

    Good to know what lurks in dark places thanks !

  5. BrSpiritus says

    I had an encounter when swimming at Costa Marina on Samal with an Electric Ray… quite a shocking experience to say the least. Just put my hand in the wrong place and paid for it with my arm being numb the rest of the day. The largest spider I have seen in Davao is the Huntsman Spider and they are harmless… very shy and it's rare to seem them out and about in the daytime. We did have a redback take up residence in the office of my old rental… I put paid to her real fast before she could make offspring.

  6. David S. says

    Another great article John. You always put a lot of excellent insight into your writing. I look forward to seeing them!

  7. says

    I here you about spiders, let me tell you my little experience, one time we were at the market in Angeles city and I feel something on top of my sunglasses by my nose, I'm looking at shorts to buy, I brush it a way thinking it's just a fly then I still felt it then felt it crawling and i knocked of my sunglasses and a freaking huge hairy spider feel down, I had the heebe-jeepies for days after that think that thing was crawling on my face, YUCK!

  8. brian says

    Bohol early morning went to take a shower be4 breakfast….spider the size of a grapefruit in shower on floor….needless to say …I did not need my morning expresso that morning !!also slept with light on the rest of my stay !! Did not know about the cuttlefish…anytime I see em diving I play with em….get them to change colors….think I'l read up on those thank you !
    The box jelly has been known to venture around the RP are you refering to irukandji jelly rusty? Would like to know for future dives. I was told most sea snakes are usually harmless to man, their fangs are in the rear of their mouth so they would have to bite you in a very pliable fleshy area to get u. Anotehr fine article john !

  9. Dave says

    Hi John
    you have just answered some of the questions I have had about the more dangerous creatures of the phils,like you i found researching them is near on impossible so much so that I was considering doing some extensive research on it and publishing it to a website.Here in the UK we hear of the usual types of dangers around Australia, the one thing that always struck me is just how close the Philippines is to Australia and I guess like most you kind of think the same dangers would be apparent.I noticed some guys mentioned about rabies and dogs I would Imagine it is also a problem with bats too. thanks again john for a well informed bit of advice for me this is one of the main types of information i would like to know about.

  10. Martin says

    Hi John,

    This post brought back lots of memories of different 'close encounters' I've had over the years in the Philippines. I've brushed up against snakes, scorpions and millipedes while living here. Oddly enough, no strange spiders aside from the everyday house spiders. Also, I agree with everyone else regarding stray dogs and rabies. Dangerous stuff.

    Cheers!

  11. Andy says

    Hello John,
    In the late 1980's and early 1990's I owned a very small pet store. I sold the regular stuff, Fish, both fresh and salt water. Parrots and Iguana's born and raised in the states. I also had a room I called the critter room. There I had snakes, Baby caimen, ( small aligator, only reached 9'0 and they were ban in 1990 ). Also had taratula's, scorpions. monitor lizards And too many more to mention.
    It was my biggest draw to my little store. And I might add my biggest profit making area. I even had bird eating tarantula's on occation. I am sure they came either from South America, or Africa. But the bird eating tarntula's I had were of very small body and very long legs. From what I could findout then, they did not hunt full grown birds, just the newly hatched. I had what was called the Imperial Scorpion that usually came to me about 9 inches long. In fish I did sell quite a few Lion fish and a few others that were posinous but not deadly. Anyway, I had been trying to find out the specie's of animals here too. So thank you so much for this article.
    Oh and when I was at crockodile park in Davao, they were listed as salt water crocodiles. Largest in world.

  12. Tyleen says

    John
    I am beyond help phobic about snakes….I assure you that my heart will stop beating. I kid you NOT!!!!
    WHere in the Phils are they found cause I will not be there~!!!!!
    I really need to know….I am sweating just typing this email!!!!!!!

  13. says

    Hi! John,
    I would like to share with some of my experiences living in the wild of the old days since our farm lies at the foot of Mt. Banahaw. I encountered snake some 2 meters long where I happened to step on it, luckily we are both in shock so we just ran on different direction. All I could say these wild animal harm you only when got threatened. We do have really venom nous snake we used to call “ Hingunguto” the neck tends to spread wide like the cobra, this is the one that I feared most, another type is the one they call ” Kuyog” snake on a group, that’s why this term is being used in gang rumble if you were beaten in deadly group. I lived with Hawk, wild chicken “ Labuyo”, Wild Cats “ Musang” of “Alamid”, Deer, Phytons, Monkeys in our farm and most of those you mentioned, but never had life threatening encounter with them, since I used to let them or just keep away from them, sad that sometimes I used to play with them with my guns.
    There is one of the leeches family we call “Limatik” it is so annoying to live with them, however, if “Limatik” roams around, it only indicates that eco-system is in good shape. Quite unfortunate because most of Limatiks are now gone due to pesticide and kaingin. What I would like to say is we have to adhere with the laws of nature, we may not have Dengue or Malaria if we didn’t consider frogs as pest or most wild animal we thought harmful since they have their own role in the eco-system. Another culprit is the modern agricultural method that causes imbalance with nature.

    • Jousie says

      The living creatures are not a concern for me. It’s the garbage that bothers me. The trash people make is too much it is causing all kinds of problems all over!

  14. Bob New York says

    HI John,

    Thanks so much for this article. There were a few times I ventured out into well traveled tourist sights, with the constant activity I guess it may have kept most creatures as you mention here at a distance.

    I think your mention of snakes turning up possible in highly urbanized areas is a good reminder. While visiting in someones apartment I caught sight of a mouse scurrying along the corner of the kitchen. I have them here too if I do not impose some sort of rodent control as I live in a wooded suburban area myself. I brought up the discussion of rodent control with the friend I was visiting at the time and bought some steel wool ( eauivalent ) to pack around a water pipe that came through the wall from the outside, and additionally getting some " sticky paper " mouse traps as that was about all that could be readily found at the moment.

    I never thought of the fact that live mice and rats could also invite snakes to come in as well. Here, field mice only attempt to come in my house in the winter months and at that time the snakes are dormant ( here ).

    I brought plenty of 25% Deet insect repellent as I had learned that Dengue Mosquietoes are common in urban areas and they are around in the daytime , somewhat opposite of Malaria carrying mosquietoes. I was also advised even before traveling to The Philippines to take " Malerone " malaria preventitive tablets ( those things are very expensive too ! ) . I hope someday they have something similar for prevention of Dengue Feever.

    The one insect that really surprized me were the size of those ( compared to here ) Giant Roaches ! The first one I saw was on a sidewalk outside of a restaurant. I thought it was some kind of big beatle and asked one of my Filipino friends what it was and I was informed that it was a cockroach ! Then when I was told they could Fly, I thought for sure that was some kind of joke but I found out later on it's true ! WoW, talk about " Wild Kingdom " ( LOL )

    Thanks again for this article John, I'll keep my eyes open for snakes even in the highly populated places next time I visit !

  15. Tyleen says

    Hi John
    I have a plan….I just thought it up last night…
    When we finish the cement block 10'fence around the perimeter and the gate house is built at the hwy….I will offer a bounty on the "things"
    There is about 5-9 workers on the property at any given time.
    So if I offer 200 pesos per "thing" I figure the 9 hectares will be "thing" free in about 10-15 days. I mean money talks and BS walks as they say..
    My filipina BF Jocelyn;'s kuya will verify the "catch" and make sure the "things are removed far far far far away from the property.
    I will be far far far away during the :"roundup' in Manila where "things" have 2 legs and easier to get rid of.
    When I was there last Jul/Aug I was careful to stay close to the house and the pool area and not to go out into the fields. Jocelyn told me there were no "things" around (she knows how phobic I am) but I refused to believe her.
    So what do you think????
    Should I increase the per "thing"?????

    What do you think????

  16. Tyleen says

    Hi
    I thought about that but with my friends brother checking the count and disposing of them himself I think that that would cut down on the fraud….and the threat of having to give back all of the $$$ if they are caught cheating.

  17. brian says

    Did'nt mean to freak u out John…so i change my avatar.

    Pic of my shower mate !! I usually prefer them less hairy !!

  18. erik cable says

    John

    after it rains I see a lite brown frog jumpining across the path
    Margie says this is a rice frog and do not eat cause it is poison?
    I like frog leggs but this guy is a bit smaller than the river frogs in the states and it may be a little on the don't eat list

    ps- Today I saw a spider that was about 3 inches tip to tip!
    My carpenter had a chance to smack it like I would but he just shooed it away,whats up with that?

  19. Phil R. says

    I just bought 3.5 hectors in the boonies ..I guess these are somw things I need to watch out for in the brush … thanks for the warning John …Phil n Jess

  20. andy says

    Hi John,

    I am back in the states for a few weeks to take care of restof business before the move there. The property Merlin and I have in Leyte is about 1/2 hector, but is in between Fathers land and Sisters land and all together it is about 3 hectors. It is on hill and on all properies you can not now get to top. Only small area for houses is cleared. My Brother said I would have fum with bolo clearing path. Now I am thinking that much better to hire it out. hehe. Merlin tells me of lizard that comes down to hunt the chickens. Have not seen and not sure I want to find lizard big enough to hunt chickens by surprize. Not to mention cobra that could well do me in before I could get medical attention. But I have to see what is up there. I can see the coconut, jack and mango. No one else has borthered to venture up because plenty of all down by houses.Again thanks for the article.

  21. Jack says

    Hi John,

    You wrote a great article. I was bitten by something on my January visit and didn't go to the doctors. The bite got infected and looked very ugly. I have a nice scar and it will remind me to see the doctor right away and to get antibiotics ASAP if something similar happens on my next visit.

  22. Graham Hill says

    Hi John,
    My Filipina wife and I recently settled in the forest land near Antipolo. Over the course of the year whilst building our house and now since living there a further year we have seen an aray of wonderfully coloured creatures…. I have quite a fascination with spiders since as a kid when I had a Honduran curly hair tarantula. Here we have seen all sorts and sizes of spiders, some wonderful beetles and crazy flying bugs. However… thanks for posting this up, as I like you were searching what seemed like and age for this sort of info. Top marks sir and may we all enjoy the wonders of the Filipino tropics.
    Take care

    • John Miele says

      Graham: Glad you liked it! Spiders and I have an understanding: If I don’t see them, they don’t get squished. That being said, I know it is a completely irrational fear.

  23. Johan says

    Hi John!

    I’m going to Mindanao shortly and would like to know what kind of creatures I can expect to encounter. I have a real problem with snakes and wouldn’t like to meet one in person also my wife is deadly afraid of frogs or toads to be more precise. Looking forward to see some of the Phillipines! Thank you for a good article!

    • John Miele says

      Johan: Frogs and toads are everywhere, as are rats and mice. Snakes are primarily in jungle or grassy areas (rice padis)… Don’t go wandering around in the woods and you are unlikely to encounter one (Though they occasionally enter houses to keep cool / find food). Your biggest threat is dengue and mosquitoes… Use lots of repellent.

  24. Pat says

    Hello!
    First of all, GREAT article! Its always interesting to hear experiences from foreigners that have come to visit or stayed in the Philippines. I was just wondering why you didnt add roaches to your list. They’re huge and not scared of people. There have been so many times I woke up in the middle of the night with a huge roach crawling on top of me… I’m normally fascinated by creepy crawlies, but those things are just up to no good. Yeah they dont have a sting, or bite, but theyre just loaded with germs, and ruin any food you leave at the table. I once bit into a pie with roach droppings! UUUrghhhh!

    Also want to add my experience on Jellyfish. We were out snorkeling on an island near Guimaras (near Iloilo). We were just near the shore, and I noticed a floating piece of plastic that had tentacles. Then I realized (having seen it from National Geographic), it was a Box Jelly and my sister was running towards it. I screamed so hard, but unfortunately I was underwater. When I got up, it was already too late as she ran straight to it and she was already in pain. We got to the shore and the locals quickly rubbed on her leg a remedy of coconut milk and some herbs. Thanks to their quick action, she didnt suffer any more than some minor redness that dissappeared a few days after. After that, I just realized how lucky she was since I remembered them saying in National Geographic that some species of box jellies can kill people.

    • John Miele says

      Thank you Pat. Ironically, the roaches themselves are one of the cleanest animals on the planet (Seriously. Look it up!)… It is their droppings that cause disease.

      Another remedy for jellyfish stings is human urine… having someone pee on the woulnd neutralizes the poison for some reason. The more you know!

  25. Kenth says

    Thanks for a very helpfull site. Seems that the last message is from aug. 2009, and we’re now close to 2012… And still, this site is the best?!:)
    Ill have to remember all this usefull info when I get there..
    Happy new year..

    • John Miele says

      Kenth: Glad you found it helpful… Chris Dearn, who writes on this site and is a heavily certified diver, wrote an article a while back on this site about sea creatures to watch for.

  26. Colsie says

    I’m in Angeles City and I was joined in bed early this morning by a triatomine bug or commonly known as the kissing bug, because it usually bites on the faceband feeds from your blood then defecates close to or in the open wound leaving the victim at risk of life threatening parasitic infection, nice. The bug never made it to my face and is very dead now, but it did bite my lower legs three or four times, which woke me up as the bites sting quite bad…another one to add to the list of dangerous creatures

    http://www.rentokil.com.ph/pest-guides/insects-and-spiders/bedbugs-and-biting-insects/triatomine-bug/index.html

    • John Miele says

      Colsie: Bedbugs are common and really difficult to get rid of… You need to check your furniture really well. This is one reason I avoid cheaper hotels when I travel.

  27. Trevor says

    Hi John, many thanks for all the information, but I am now very concerned as I have a lovely Philipino girl friend living on her parents farm in the foot hills on Negros Island. How concerned should I be about the dangers of snake bite etc.
    Your comments would be much appreciated, Trevor.

    • John Miele says

      Trevor: Just be careful about wandering around in rice paddies and places like that. If it is an area that is overgrown and looks like a snake may be there, that’s a good indicator. Most snakes shy away from people. If walking around in the brush, shuffling your feet vevery now and then will often scare them away before they even see you. So, to answer your question, in the house / town / around people… not much risk.

  28. robin yates says

    the information about crocodiles is incorrect, the worlds largest crocodile was captured alive here in the Philippines last year in the Agusan Marsh. It was a saltwater croc, he was 20 feet 3 inches.There is no species of croc called the Freshwater. There is another wild croc here but as stated not as big as the Saltwater type.There are no deadly poisonous caterpillars anywhere in the world! So much bad info here,

    • brian says

      I heard him say poisonous not deadly poisonous, big difference since as much as a bee is classed poisonous

  29. Parsley says

    I was told to be aware of “tayom” (Sea urchins). These are covered in spikes and will give a heap of pain if you tread on them. Swim in the sea with shoes or slippers I was told. There are plenty of them around – I have seen them. I also saw a giant millipede – some can sqirt dangerous substances to make you blind. Amazing to see them, but don’t get too close!

    Incidentally I had injection & tablets for some deseases before I arrived in Phil (from UK) but chose not to have rabies. It was expensive and I was advised simply to stay away from dogs. Apparently children find it harder to stay away from dogs and may not report a small bite, so children are more likely to benefit from an anti-rabies jab.

  30. rose ann nonato says

    hi..this year i collected shells from cebu and marinduque as we go for a vacation with my family. My auntie warned me about collecting poisonous shells in cebu, she tolled me about that dangerous beauty with a sting. I think it’s a conch shell that looks very attractive..so i wanna ask..how many are the poisonous shells in the philippines?

    • John Miele says

      Rose Ann: The one that you really need to watch for is the cone shell… Most other shells are harmless. Chris Dearne, another writer on this site, is a diver, and would possibly herlp you out a bit more were you to write him a polite email.

  31. Tom Harmon says

    We recently purchased some land in the provincial area around Toledo City, in Cebu.
    Is there any concerns about animals or reptiles that should concern me in that area. There is no rain forest in our area, but there is plenty of trees. Please advise me, I plan on building a home their and retiring there in five more years. My wife grew up on the land next to ours and never had an animal issue and she is now 49. Hope to here from you soon.

    • John Miele says

      Tom: I’m not certain about that specific area, but in general, poisonous snakes and stray dogs (along with mosquitoes) are the biggest threats.

  32. Mangojay says

    Hi all, I’ve lived in Cebu for quite a while and I’m still fascinated by the wildlife. My place is up in the hills in a sparsely populated subdivision with plenty of trees and we often get”visitors” to our garden. Here’s a selection of creatures encountered:

    Giant Stick insect – (10 inches). Found three in one week, then never again.

    Giant Centipede – (8 inches). I don’t like these aggressive predators. I understand that they have a nasty bite.

    Giant Millipede – (7 inches). Harmless and docile. My wife can’t stand them; I think they’re kind of cute.

    Tarantula – (3 inches). An attractive black spider, not so common. Harmless and frequently falls victim to my cat. There is another tarantula species which is a little bigger and feistier.

    Wolf Spider – Harmless, but I still dislike them them due to their large size and startling speed. They frequently enter the house and prey on small house geckos.

    Big Beetle – No idea what this is called, but it’s about the biggest beetle I’ve ever seen and it flies around like a drunken bumble bee crashing into doors and windows. Harmless, but if you pick one up it will hold onto you for dear life.

    Tokay Gecko – The world’s biggest gecko. We have several living around our house. Beautiful coloration, but don’t try catching one as they have a powerful bite.

    Wolf Snake – Small nocturnal snake often found in homes. Eats small lizards. Completely harmless to humans.

    Rat Snake – A larger snake, grey/beige color. Spotted one of these in the garden coiled around a mouse or rat which was too big to subdue. The struggle lasted an hour before the rodent eventually escaped.

    Bronzeback Snack – A slender snake with large eyes which is quite common. Very attractive. Harmless to humans.

    Monitor Lizard – These guys are amazing. Big powerful creature which I believe may be the second biggest lizard on the planet. I caught one in my garage and looked after it for a couple of days before releasing it somewhere safe. They are supposedly protected by law, but the locals frequently kill them.

    Skinks – Several types of (usually) shiny lizards. There is a beautiful bright green one which can be seen strolling across walls or climbing trees. There are much larger ground-dwelling skinks which we spot from time to time.

    There is a bug here called the whip scorpion which isn’t actually a scorpion at all. It’s a ghastly looking thing which lives under rocks, but don’t worry it’s not too common and it’s completely harmless.

    We have a good selection of birds here at the subdivision including kingfishers and several others which are also brightly colored. It’s kind of a haven here as outside the perimeter you can hear the locals shooting at them which is saddening.

    Anyway the point of my post is basically this… my experience of Cebu is that while there are handful of potentially dangerous creatures in existence I’ve yet to encounter them. As already mentioned the two biggest threats are rabies and dengue fever. I suffered dengue when I was new here and it’s no joke so beware of spending too much time outdoors in the late afternoon. Get yourself protected against rabies. A pre-exposure vaccination is much, much cheaper than post-exposure treatment and rabies is a reality all over the Philippines.

  33. says

    Thanks John! I spend a lot of time outdoors in the province. If I had to stay in the city or suburbs, I wouldn’t even bother with the Philippines. My wife and I were discussing building a chicken coop at our place near Solano. She said the wire had to be strong, and the mesh small to keep out lizards. She’s a country girl, and I was a bit surprised. I told her a lizard doesn’t stand a chance in a chicken coop. She said “You’re thinking like an American. Here, you have lizards. In the Philippines, we have LIZARDS.”

    Take care,
    Pete

  34. Nicklas Magnusson says

    Hi! I’m Nicholas.
    Really good articles on this site…got me a bit more relaxed. thanks.
    however I’m going on holiday to the philippines in january with the family, my wife and kids. we are going to visit our family in pandi in manila and also going to cebu and bohol. really excited about the trip…but
    I’m very worried since I heard about this Irukandji box jellyfish and dengue fever. I dont wanna be exposed to it, but the philippines has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. tough not to be able to go into the water. that sucks! I also heard putting vinager on jelly fish sting also takes out the poison. i know that…but the irukandji can kill u hours later? with the poison that made its way into the body? but u can survive iv’e heard…and a tip for removing tentacles from jellyfish…don’t do it with your hands. use a sticks or clothes, towels…any thoughts on the Irukandji?? how to avoid it or to spot it in the water. does it come close to shore.
    plz
    /nicholas

  35. perry says

    john i ve been to southern leyte, maasin city to be exact and been all over in the brush and different places and of yet the only thing i have seen is a spider which was small and a cockroach no snakes of any kind or frogs really nothing hehe. i wish i could see something i did see some birds but nothing exceptional . i have been there 2 times and i just got back oct. 15 2012 and soon i hope to move there in around march maybe i will see more then. i really do like your article and is informative thank you very much,,, pare

  36. says

    I have cobras n my farm but we don’t see them so much now that we cut the grass and clear most weeds.

    I found this page when looking for pictures of the Philippine frog that spits poison, the brown recluse spider and the red back spider. I have managed to attract a lot of frogs to keep the mosquitoes and flies in check but my helper’s mother was once almost blinded by a spitting frog and there are plenty of spiders around. I want to be able to recognize the bad guys before children find them. If anyone knows where pictures of these are please let me know.

    • brian says

      just a friendly warning Frank and I don’t live there but the moisture that frogs like the spiders will also like because of the bugs and they will move into your house so be carefull

  37. says

    One little creature you did forget to mention that i happened to have the unfortune of meeting is the tiny fire ant. I was at the Marju krisel resort in calbayog samar and my fiance noticed my entire leg covered in lil red ants. They didnt bother me until i started trying to wipe them off. MAN i tell you that was a bad idea. My leg instantly felt like it was on fire. I must have been bitten 500 times. Luckily i have a hig resistance to infections and my leg was red as hell but after maybe two hours the pain subsided. So, in short, the fire ant is another “semi-dangerous” lil pest of the PI.

  38. WolfmanKayl says

    I am tired of hearing about how I am in “their” territory. All the world is the territory of man and if animals bite or harm man it needs to be wiped out. Enough tolerance for dangerous species, if it contends with us, it dies. Most Filipinos are smart enough to know that, you see a cobra, it dies, if only all the other dangerous vermin would get the same treatment. People need to remember, animals were not made to be harmful, they have become harmful as the result of the fall, and therefore it is expedient that some species exist only in deep hiding or not at all, we DO NOT need them and nor does the earth.

  39. Scott Fortune says

    John,

    I know this is an old posting, BUT, I happened to be searching the web researching the very kinds of things you have listed in those old posting. I was just curious what was out there to watch out for, and you’ve already done that for me. :)

    It’s funny how it all comes full circle back to liveinthephilippines.com. LOL!

    Be safe!

  40. Nik says

    About the spiders..Not quite accurate though. If you would visit Mindanao and look carefully, you would find some Brown Recluse Spiders around. :))

    Thanks btw, quite informative.

  41. Henning says

    My 6th times in PH with my PH wife….. Soon I will move to PH and I found this site very good and informative. I hope people will continue to spare their experience here!

    I am so afraid for snakes, but it is better to know something about it, so thanks a lots (I have never meet a dangerous animal here in PH, but seen sea snakes from a boat)

    Ingat everybody :)

  42. john mitchell says

    I have lived in Palawan for over 13 years and have seen many animals including huge monitor lizards which are quite common here. We are on the same bio scale as Borneo, our nearest neighbour, but no orangs. I agree with comments about information on wild life here. I find it difficult find anything. I was bitten the other day in my garden and found a tiny 4mm creature just under my skin. Never happened before and no-one can tell me what it was. I have seen ‘bearcats often here, properly called civets, they are harmless and quite beautiful to watch.

    The other thing I find difficult, apart from sparrows and eagles, is to have the names of birds given to me, I am married to a Philippina, For instance the mayamaya which I thought was a little finch but many here give the name to any small birds.

    Joy is to watch each evening the huge fruit bats flying over as they make their way to the fruit trees, hundreds of them and always about 6.30 pm.

    • Vic says

      Hi John,

      I found your reply to the topic of wildlife dangers to watch out for in the Philippines and we would be appreciative to know if you could perhaps provide some more info on the topic. We will be going to the PI in November and are really more interested in ocean dangers…especially jelly fish. Have there been many incidents with jelly fish in your experience in Palawan ? or incidences with other ocean lifeforms ? (We are preparing ourselves for Malaria mosquitoes as well.)

      Thank you,

      Vic Bernsdorff

  43. Kristian says

    Thank you for the very informative website. I am going to the PH with my family in January, and I appreciate to be well prepared for any encounter. I will go to Manila, Banaue, Boracay, Palawan (Puerto Princessa) and maybe Taal Volcano and Corregidor.
    Considering the time of year, are there any particular threads that I will have to prepare for? I have read that the female Cobras can become more aggressive during egg-laying from January to April, but what about mosquitoes? Will I have to use mosquito repellant and take malaria pills in January, considering it is not rainy season?
    I will bring my son who is 1.5 years old. He loves to run around and play, dig in the sand on the beach, and swim in the water. Do you have any good advice or thoughts for how to protect him best possibly without restricting him too much?

  44. says

    Very interesting website. Thanks for the work and info. I have spent a lot of time in the mountains of Mindanao, mostly in the high mountainous area to the east of Malaybalay (I’m a filmmaker). Once (at night while I was sleeping) I was bitten on the top of my head by an unknown bug. The locals said the culprit was a “bloodsucker cockroach.” Never been really sure what that bug looks like but beware. The effect was horrible. As I awoke in the night I noticed a small bump on my head but that quickly grew into a large bump and within a few hours I had a fever, hallucinations, and nausea. I was far away from any clinic or medical care and wasn’t sure what to do. A woman from the tribe put some concoction of wet leaves on my head and that might have given some relief, I’m not sure. I finally decided that things weren’t going well and I had to walk-stumble back down the mountain from the village and get a truck ride for 2 hours to Valencia where a doctor treated me with antibiotics and some sort of ointment. I was messed up for another day but recovered. I would really like to know what I could have done to prevent/preclude that bite, aside from rubbing a lot of insect repellant on my exposed areas at night. In my days in Mindanao I saw a lot of snakes and centipedes and spiders but it was the invisible littlle bug (not the mean-looking cobra) that got me! I guess that the same motto applies to mosquitos too. Beware of what you don’t see is now my motto.

  45. says

    Rabies are still a concern here. My girlfriend was bitten by a dog when she was a child (now 30) and the dog died a few days later from rabies. That kind of got my attention because I've never known anyone that had to have rabies shots before. She did, right into the stomach just as they say. I don't know how serious of a problem it is, I've been wondering the same thing but it is an issue.

  46. John Miele says

    Barry and Rusty; Rabies is a big problem here, and is endemic. I should have put stray dogs on my list, since they are so common here. Fortunately, most of the strays LOOK sick, so it usually is common sense. Best to leave strays alone and not feed them. If you take one in, then get it to the vet.

  47. John Miele says

    Tommy: Eons ago, in boot camp at Ft Lost in the Woods, Misery, a guy in my unit was bitten by one on the bum… same thing you described. Not pretty.

    Becky squashes the spiders for me, but I think one of the bird spiders would be where she drew the line! Perhaps I'll just introduce it to Mr. Cinder Block!

  48. John Miele says

    BR Spiritus: The encounter with the ray certainly got your attention! As to the spider, I don't want to see one of those either!

  49. John Miele says

    Dave: There really isn't much out there… You might have a pretty popular site there. Most of the info I saw, if any, was the cobra on the deadliest snakes list, or dangerous animals in Asia, in general. Not much specific to the Philippines, though.

  50. John Miele says

    Martin: I think the snake encounters are most likely, given the diet of mice and rats, which are everywhere. Hope you have no more unpleasantries!

  51. John Miele says

    Andy: I would think that would be an attraction. I remember a pet shop in Houston that had a monkey right in front… it attracted kids like a candy store. I am certain that many of their parents bought other things there after the kids asked to go see the monkey.

  52. jonaky says

    Ok guys, which is it then, Saltwater or Freshwater crocs? My lady in MIndanao says 'They are terrible', suitably darkening the topic. Here in the UK such beasts are not a threat to our children.

  53. John Miele says

    Tyleen: Unfortunately, they are endemic all over the country. In cities like Manila or Cebu, though, they are not nearly as common. In fact, you are not likely to see much harful in the city. In the provinces, though, you may have an encounter (Not trying to frighten you, but trying to be realistic). I think your article last year mentioned Cabanatuan, if I remember correctly. Keep in mind that that is a farming area, and sort of the last "civilization" as you head North from Manila.

    Really, you just need to keep aware if you are walking through tall grass, rice paddies, or jungle trails. Wear long pants and hiking boots. Don't go picking up rocks and logs and such. You don't really strike me as the camping type (Though I wouldn't know), but if you sleep in a Nipa Hut or outside, check your sleeping bag before getting in and your boots before putting them on. If you are REALLY worried, carry a snakebite kit. They are scared of you and normally try to get away. For your house, try and keep it clean to minimize rats and mice, which is their food. Place plenty of traps around… Snakes want their food alive, not dead, so get the traps that kill the mice.

    Take care… Remember, in rural BC, there are also many snakes, just different types.

  54. Dave says

    Your right John there isnt a great deal out there on the subject of philippine dangerous animals, I know that if i get a website up and running it will be after very extensive research however I am lucky in the fact that i only live about 30 mins away from one of the most respected tropical medicine research centres in the world, The Liverpool Hospital for Tropical Medicine and Research. I will be visiting there quite a lot I think, the other area open to me at present is the Open University. I cant knock the Phils for much but I would have thought most countries that have these types of dangers would have had an info site dedicated to informing people. As i said before John you have been good enough to make the attempt at informing people and for that you should be comended, thats what makes this such a good and informative site is that you get the info you look for from people like yourself .

  55. Dave says

    oops ! I said the Liverpool Hospital for tropical medicine it should have been The Liverpool School Of Tropical Medicine.

  56. says

    Yeah! Dengue seems more lethal than A(H1N1) virus. Though I thought we don't have such case in our place, partly due to frogs and lizards still roaming the farm, but in nearby low land towns there are reported cases of Dengue. Argentina now offers frogs as gifts to control this dreaded fever causing mosquitos, they say that single frog can consume more than 15,000 insect in one season!

    BTW I do regrets being one of those Bat hunters in our farm before, I just realised that these bats use to eats Coconut Beatles,a serious pest to coconuts. While other smaller beatles is not as harmful since they use to eat another pest which is white fly. Eco-system is amazing if not for harm inflicted most notably by Homo Sapiens itself.

  57. John Miele says

    Erik: All you can do in the province is sleep under netting and use repellent… and hope for good luck.

  58. John Miele says

    Vic: Right you are. The local names you mentioned were interesting. The environment is changing. Rebecca remembers wildcats and monkeys up in Abulug when she was young. Now, you have to go way up in the Sierra Madres to see any animals like that.

  59. John Miele says

    Vic: I seem to remember reading somewhere that a bat eats its own weight in mosquitoes in one year… Quite a lot of mosquitoes. The bats here normally are harmless to people… and there are lots of bats in the Philippines.

  60. John Miele says

    Bob: Dengue really is the one to be worried about here… Malaria is not so common, at least in the city. As to roaches, well they are big ones. It is so humid that it is really difficult, if not impossible, to control them.

  61. John Miele says

    Dave: I saw it… It is mostly "under construction", but there are some links and pictures there.

  62. Dave says

    Hi again john "yeah I did notice it was mostly still under construction and from the look of it has been since 2006" the main reason I popped in the link was for the pictures I know there are so many different species but I also know Identification of a snake that might bite you can be essential. I would imagine even though the site isnt complete it could make a good reference point for just the reason of the pictures.

  63. Dave says

    tyleen the one big danger you would have from that is it could become a lucrative scam for the worker, he could bring the same snake etc back every day and you would end up paying out for something that wasnt really there.

  64. John Miele says

    Tyleen: hmmmm… never thought of that option… Could work, I guess. Some of the guys in the neighborhood would probably go for it.

  65. says

    Hi Erik,

    We do catch rice frog for food, you will see this more often in the rice field or irrigation canals. I suspect that what you saw are those type of frogs usually roams around banana plantation and on backyards, these are the poisonous type. Be careful not to get closer to them since they use to spit saliva that maybe poisonous as well. However, most frogs are beneficial to contain mosquitos that causes dengue.

    Edible type of frogs mostly lives by clean rivers or brooks, as big as your palm and almost black while rice frogs are mostly confined only on rice fields and seldom strays away, mostly half of your palm size and light colored and with white abdomen.

    Those frogs in banana plantation are mostly brownish and appears like malnourish, again this is not edible.

  66. John Miele says

    Erik: I think the eating frogs here are like the bullfrogs in the States. The ones I see in Abulug (for eating) are usually pretty big.

  67. John Miele says

    Vic: Out in the province, they usually leave the frogs and lizards alone because they eat mosquitoes.

  68. John Miele says

    Andy: The lizards are a type of monitor lizard and are very common. They actually eat them in Cagayan. They more than likely won't bother you. As to snakes, just be aware of where you step.

  69. jonaky says

    Same here, I have searched online more than once, but not much success. Mostly the scientific-listing-style sites that I find confusing. My fiancee doesnt share my interest in this area! the response I get is 'Oh My!' and that's it. :)

  70. jonaky says

    Yes Dave, do a website on it. Actually, afterwards you might extend it to everywhere else as well. Might even pay? After all, the various countries probably aren't keen on pushing aspects which might deter tourism, but people need to know, so maybe a lot of scope here. I wouldn't attempt it, it'd give me nightmares.

  71. John Miele says

    Jonaky: I would think that the threat is less than that of alligators in Florida. People here lived with them for thousands of years. Really, it is just keeping them from thinking you are food. The big threat with the kids is if you live on a river bank… You need to teach them to stay clear if there are crocs around.

  72. JohnM says

    Jack: Infection is really taking a chance. If you are bitten by something, and not certain if poisonous, a doctor visit is best. Doctors visits are cheap here, so cost really is never a good excuse (In my youth, I burned my hand and ignored the infection… Got gangrene and septicemia, and have a chunk missing from my thumb as a reminder).

  73. Mangojay says

    Bats certainly perform an important role in the ecosystem. One word of caution… never handle an injured or sick bat you find on the ground as bats have extremely sharp teeth and have been known to transmit rabies. And on the subject of rabies you may be interested to know that only warm-blooded animals can carry the virus. Snake and lizard bites are not a concern, although tetanus is a possibility so make sure your vaccination is up to date.

  74. Dennis Glass says

    John very informative. thanks. Just wondering if I could be vaccinated to protect me against getting Dengue before I come there?

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