Are There Dangerous Or Poisonous Animals In The Dominican Republic?

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The Dominican Republic does not represent a danger of consideration for human beings when they come into contact with nature. But this does not mean that there are no poisonous animals in the Dominican Republic.

Poisonous doesn’t mean it’s lethal, but it can mean very painful. A sting can be complicated by various conditions and even represent death, such as a severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock, even from a bee sting.

In the Dominican Republic, there are no lethal poisonous animals, but the bite of some is very annoying and can lead to complications to very sensitive people, scorpions, tarantula, nor the black widow in our territory are not a threat to man, his toxin It is only high for small animals and insects.

The venom fatalities of some species depend more on lack of treatment or complications, such as the bite of some endemic spiders. The sting of the thorn line is one of the most painful on the beach, it uses its stinger when it is stepped on. A poison that can last for hours, causes intense pain and drifts through the body.

I must specify, for those who have never visited the Dominican Republic, these animals mentioned in this topic are not abundant in all parts of the country, in fact, in all my life living in the Dominican Republic I have never seen a scorpion, but they exist in a certain area of the island.

I have only seen the Solenodon in photos for example, those that I have been able to witness in trips to rural communities have been the Huron, the Jején, and in Puerto Plata I was able to see a stingray many years ago.

According to some research that I made; these are the most dangerous animals in the Dominican Republic.

Sea urchins

sea urchin

I must say that this was the creature that I most feared as a child and went to the beach, is usually found on the beaches of Boca Chica and Juan Dolio, near Santo Domingo.

Sea urchins are lined with large sharp spines, sharp and sometimes coated with poison. Touching or stepping on those sharp spines usually causes a stabbing and painful wound. The spines break frequently in the skin and cause chronic pain and inflammation when they are not removed.

Sea urchins are not found on the coast or in the bathing area of the beach, but rather in some rocky areas of the beach.

Phlebotomus papatasi (Jején)

no-see-ums Dominican Republic

The Jején is also known as the black fly, although it can be black or grey. It is a very small insect, no bigger than the head of a pin at most 2 to 3 mm.

They can be found anywhere in the world where there are rivers or streams, because they lay their eggs in places with water. They need the blood of warm-blooded animals to survive. They can sting people through their clothes to get blood.

The natives in the Dominican Republic call this insect “maye”

A person may not immediately realize that he has been stung by a Jején. But soon after, the area of the bite will start to swell.

A little bit of blood may come out of the bite. It will be very itchy and may be painful. This insect is not poisonous, but its sting could result in serious problems for allergic people, it could also be a source of transmission of parasites.

Cassiopeia y aguaviva

Photo: Marvin del Cid

Cassiopeia is also known as inverted jellyfish, marine jellyfish are pelagic, jelly-shaped in the form of an umbrella or bell. Regularly found in mangroves and deep in shallow water, their bite can go unnoticed as a simple discomfort in the skin that soon disappears.

In contrast, jellyfish species with tentacles, their toxicity in the bite can vary depending on the species. The bite can be painful with a brief burning sensation.

Most jellyfish found by bathers cause painful bites and with a burning sensation, the toxicity of the jellyfish sting varies by species, it could be much more irritating for people with allergic reactions, sensitive skin or very susceptible to bites.

Pempén Toad, Marine Rhinella

Photo: Timoteo Estevez

Also known as “cane toad”, it was introduced from Central America to the country as a pest control in cane plantations. When he feels threatened, expels a very potent toxin from the glands behind his eyes and back. Lethal to predators and to humans only if ingested.

Horse wasp, Polistes major major

Photo:Marvin del Cid

Their colors are yellow and black they are not aggressive, but they usually attack defending their nest or if they feel any threat in the environment, in the Schmidt index of pain from insect bites, which goes from 1 to 4, is in position 1 being the lowest on the scale.

This wasp can sting repeatedly in a single attack, unlike the myeliferous bee that only bites once.

Many times, humans are bitten when they pass near a nest without realizing it.

The centipede, Scolopendra gigantea

The centipede is a carnivorous insect that can be found anywhere, to capture its prey they have some developed mouth apprentices that secrete poison, there are over 3,000 species of centipedes worldwide. It can measure about 25 cm long.

A centipede bite is usually painful, causes redness and swelling, located at the site of the bite, and does not cause significant damage.

Solenodon, Solenodon paradoxus

Photo:Marvin del Cid

The Solenodon is a nocturnal mammal endemic to the island, a true living fossil. The solenodon is the only one capable of injecting poison through specialized hollow teeth, in the style of snakes, unlike the male platypus which has a stinger in the hind legs and some shrews that have toxic saliva.

Use this poison to hunt insects and when fighting with other males per couple. The venom is not lethal in humans, but it can cause a lot of pain and easily infect the wound.

The Solenodon is in danger of extinction; it is in some protected places in the Dominican Republic such as the Haitises National Park; it is very rare to see them due to their small number and nightlife.

The spider cocoa, Phormictopus cancerides

This tarantula is an arachnid native to the Caribbean, it uses its sharp fangs almost only to hunt, injecting venom into the prey that paralyzes it and breaks down the tissue.

It can also shed stinging hairs from its abdomen to keep predators away, its bite can cause irritation and swelling, is rarely harmful to humans.


Photo: Marvin del Cid

There are 44 species of scorpions on the island of which 42 are endemic. They have a sting with poison at the end of their tails they used to hunt and defend themselves; it is nocturnal habits it is easy to find them under stones, leaf litter, hollow logs and hidden in dark areas of the houses.

The sting in humans is not mortal but it can be very painful and does not require treatment. Its poison is studied by the pharmaceutical industry.

Running snake, Haitiophis anomalus

Photo: Robert Ortiz

This endemic snake is not dangerous for humans. Although it can inject poison, it is difficult for this to happen because its fangs are at the back of the jaw; it is over two meters long and looks similar to that of a cobra when it shows its hood, if it were to bite a Being a human being is more common than there is a secondary infection.

It is distributed in the villages of Neyba and Pedernales, the main habitat being Beata Island. It is rarely seen and is in danger of extinction.

The thorn stripe or American whip-stripe, Dasyatis americana

Photo: Wikipedia

They live in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean; it is a flat-bodied fish that has a sting or spine at the base of the tail it uses in self-defense, it usually remains immobile partially buried in the sand in low waters.

It bites humans when they are accidentally stepped on, sticking their stingers in the foot or leg.

The wound is deep and of extreme pain, the effect of the poison can last for over 6 hours and many people suffer fainting and, the wound could become infected if a fragment of the stinger remains.

soaking the leg in hot water is the only treatment to neutralize the poison that is not lethal.

It is recommended to walk dragging your feet in the sand so as not to step on them.

Lionfish, Pterois antennata

Photo: Guillermo Ricart

Ravenous and invasive species of nocturnal habits, with a presence throughout the island at different depths, it is not usually an aggressive fish, but in its defense it uses its long spines in the ventral, dorsal and anal fin with venomous glands that can cause a lot of pain.

Besides heart failure, respiratory paralysis and fever if the picture is complicated. Its meat is edible, and it is recommended before preparing to carefully remove all poisonous thorns.

This fish arrived in the Atlantic Ocean after several aquariums in the city of Miami were destroyed by the impact of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Tarantulas hunting wasps, Pepsis ruficornis

A parasitic wasp, bluish-black, use tarantulas as hosts for its larvae. Although it is not aggressive with the human being, its sting is classified as one of the most painful according to the Schmidt index with 4 of 4 intensity, compared with the sting of the bullet ant of South America.

Violin Spider, Loxosceles caribbaea

This spider is widely distributed in America, with over 40 species identified, can cause serious injury or death in case of weak young or old children because of its cytotoxic venom, It is considered of high danger, (destroys cells).

Its venom can be 10 times more potent than the burn with sulfuric acid and 15 times more toxic than a cobra. Also, its venom has a high penetration power in the bile ducts and liver.

It is also called “Corner Spider”, It is a spider of habitat preferably domiciliary; She is shy, lonely, sedentary and develops her activity generally at night.

The black widow and the brown widow

Photo: Isaac Ramirez

The black widow (Latrodectus mactans) and the brown widow (Latrodectus geometricus) are two spiders that belong to the Theridiidae family and have glands that produce a type of toxin that is very strong and potentially dangerous to humans.

Particularly the black widow that possesses glands larger produces more poison compared to the brown widow.

Contact between widows and humans is very rare, since they are very shy spiders. in our country there have been no official cases of deaths from bites from these spiders.


Photo: Guillermo Ricart

Fish that live in tropical and subtropical waters of the world, it inflates when it feels threatened, that is why it bears his name. It has the toxin called tetrodotoxin, one of the most potent neurotoxins, being about 1200 times more toxic to humans than cyanide.

A single pufferfish contains enough toxin tetrode to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote. The pufferfish does not bite or itch. It is poisonous only to consumption.

Portuguese frigate or false jellyfish, Physalia physalis

It inhabits all the warm waters of the world; it is a kind of siphonophore hydrozoo. Its venom has neurotoxic, cytotoxic and cardiotoxic consequences, producing marks that look like burns and very intense pain.

In case the affected area is very large it can cause anaphylactic shock that can cause death.

Sightings have been reported in different parts of the country, although the meetings are very rare.

It has a kind of gelatinous “candle” that stands out from the water, about 30 centimeters, with long tentacles that can exceed 10 meters long, which have stinging capsules that when stimulated by the prey release toxins.

In case of a bite, you should see a doctor immediately.

I wrote a whole topic about this type of jellyfish if you are interested in knowing more about it.

Wild mongoose, herpestes javanicus

The wild mongoose, or Huron as they call it in the Dominican Republic, is a species brought from Asia to the country many years ago to control rat pests, proliferate in some mountains and depopulated green areas.

The wild mongoose is not poisonous, but it is dangerous because its Bite can be a vector of transmission of diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis, they are shy animals, but tend to be aggressive and attack when they feel that their burrow is threatened.

The Huron is extremely shy and elusive from contact with people and is only found in the wild in uninhabited green areas.



Like the “Huron”, the Racoon is not a poisonous animal, but is considered dangerous because it can transmit various diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis, as well as transmitting nematodes or worms that can affect the human brain.

The racoon is an invasive species not endemic to the Dominican Republic, was brought to the country many years ago and can only be found on the island of Catalina in the south-east of the Dominican Republic.

Despite its quiet appearance, tourists visiting Catalina Island are advised not to approach or touch them.

Barracudas (Sphyraena spp.)

They are a genus of deep-sea carnivorous fish, the only one in the family of sphiraenids, which attack their prey very quickly. It abounds in all tropical seas (especially next to islets and coral reefs), but it is more common in the Caribbean and the Western Atlantic.

The length of these voracious fish ranges from 45 cm of the smaller species to approximately 1.8 m of the great barracuda.

Young barracudas often frequent shallow and coastal areas, where easy dams and warmer waters proliferate, while adults spend most of their time in deep areas.

Encounters with humans are not common, it only attacks when it feels intimidated, it usually makes a quick explosive attack and then runs away quickly.

Moray eels (Muraenidae)

Photo: Wikipedia

Moray eels are considered a very aggressive animal. On the contrary, it is a shy and discreet animal, which attacks humans only when it feels in danger. They are easily accessible by divers.

But it is not advisable to touch them because their bites, contains bacteria and germs that cover the teeth, can transmit infections.

Frequently asked questions about dangerous animals in the Dominican Republic

What is the most dangerous animal in the Dominican Republic?

The mosquito definitely must be the most dangerous animal in the Dominican Republic, and not only in the Dominican Republic, but one of the most dangerous animals in the world.

What makes the mosquito so dangerous, despite its tiny size and fragile appearance, is its ability to transmit viruses and other parasites that cause various diseases. There are more than 2,500 species of mosquitoes and these animals are found in all regions of the planet except for Antarctica.

It is very unlikely that you will have problems with mosquitoes in the Dominican Republic if you visit a hotel, since they have the problem of mosquitoes controlled, but the country has ideal climatic conditions for the reproduction of these insects, therefore they are abundant in nature, especially in spaces where there is water stagnation.

It is a good idea if you are going to make some excursion to come prepared with a good repellent and the appropriate clothes.

If you want to know more about the cunning of these flying insects, I wrote on another website about the intelligence of mosquitoes, you might be surprised by some interesting facts about this insect…

What is the national animal of Dominican Republic?

The Cigua Palmera (Dulus dominicus) was declared National Dominican Bird on January 14, 1987,  Cigua Palmera is the only endemic to the Antilles.  his name is due they always nest in palms that are not in contact with any other tree, which prevents rats, snakes and man from climbing into the nest. They lay 3 to 4 eggs with dark spots.

Are there poisonous snakes in Punta Cana?

In the Dominican Republic and Punta Cana there are no poisonous snakes, the endemic snakes of the country, such as the green snake, serve as pest controls such as rats and mice but are not carriers of poison or represent threats to humans, and are rarely found in the mountains and wild green areas.

Are there crocodiles in the Dominican Republic?

The American crocodile (Crocodylus acatus), lives in the waters of Lake Enriquillo, this lake belongs to the protected area of the Jaragua National Park and the Sierra de Bahoruco National Park and is the only place in the Dominican Republic where you can see Crocodiles in their habitat natural.

Can you swim in Lago Enriquillo?

There is an area on Lake Enriquillo enabled to bathe, but this area must be reached by a guided tour and supervised for your safety, I must remind you, the salinity of its water is greater than that of the sea, it is also the natural habitat of American crocodiles, in the surroundings of the lake there are thermal water wells to which many people attribute healing properties.

Are there bears in the Dominican Republic?

Despite the fact that the forest area of the Dominican Republic represents 43.6% of the country’s territory, there are no endemic bears in the Dominican Republic, the only place where you could see a bear in a controlled environment is in the National Zoo located in Santo Domingo.

Are there great white sharks in Punta Cana?

Some small sharks have been seen on around some beaches, very rarely,  but so far there has been no case of the great white shark in Punta Cana, since 2017 in the Dominican Republic shark fishing is prohibited. The beaches of hotels and resorts that have wave breakers are safe.


  1. Robyn Wolowiec says:

    Thank you for all this information. I’m a huge animal lover & love picking up & taking pictures of everything I find. I’ve been to punta cana about 15 times & ive seen the giant tarantula 3 times in Veron.. I really wanna pick it up. How would you suggest I do so? Do you think he will bite me? And if so do I take an allergy medicine or anything?

    1. Elvis Alcequiez says:

      Hi Robyn, I am also an animal lover, in fact, I have a website where I write exclusively about animals…

      To answer your question, the tarantula is very docile. You can pick it up very carefully with a small branch or dry stick and then carefully transfer it to your hand without making any sudden movements.

      In case of a sting, you can use ice on the sting area to reduce the inflammation or take any analgesic available at any drugstore.

      In case you are very sensitive or allergic, you can take an antihistamine. A tarantula sting is similar to a bee sting.

      Here is a Youtube video where a young Dominican boy picks up a tarantula and lets it walk all over his body.

      1. Robyn Wolowiec says:

        Thank you so much for this information! I finally was able to pick up one of the brown tarantulas. She was less defensive than the purple ones that kept raising their legs at me. I got her on a flat rock & transferred her to my hand! I wish I could download my video of me holding her. It was THE BEST night ever! I spent about an hour with her & then let her go. I can’t wait to come back & do it again!!

        1. Elvis Alcequiez says:

          I’m glad to know, you’re brave! The purple tarantula is a little more skittish and less docile, especially the male, who will definitely raise his legs in a defensive posture.

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