Author Topic: "Scorpion and snake-infested islet"  (Read 319 times)

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Online Maik

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"Scorpion and snake-infested islet"
« on: Thursday, 18 August, 2022 @ 13:40:01 »
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Greece finally aids refugees stranded on scorpion and snake-infested islet

Five-year-old child reportedly died of scorpion sting after nearly 40 Syrians spent a month marooned between Greece and Turkey
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/aug/17/greece-finally-aids-refugees-stranded-on-scorpion-and-snake-infested-islet

An attention grabbing headline, article might be worth a read. But how accurate is that headline?

Scary as it is, what information I can find suggests that the headline is greatly exaggerated.

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The current list of  Greek scorpions includes 32 confirmed species belonging to three families (one of Buthidae, seven of Iuridae, and 24 of Euscorpiidae), as well as a number of unassigned euscorpiid taxa. Uncovered only in the last decade, mainly through the use of DNA markers, ‘cryptic’ scorpion fauna of Greece is the most diverse in Europe.
researchgate.net

Perhaps there hasn't been much research in the the Greece-Turkey border region but the only evidence I can find suggests there isn't a great number of scorpions up there: top right of map.

If the island was infested with scorpions I think it would be known, studied and documented.

Moving on, there's some possible evidence of Euscorpius cf. corcyraeus found on Corfu, Levkas and Kefalonia and Euscorpius hadzii on Zakynthos according to this map.

Also some evidence of Euscorpius naupliensis found on Zakynthos according to this map.

There's a lot of information on the ntnu.no website regarding European scorpions and several mentions of Greece but I didn't find any mention of the Evros area or, despite trying the various spellings, of Kefalonia.

There's up-to-date information about scorpions in Greece on the The Scorpion Files Newsblog. Again no mention of Evros or Kefalonia could I find.

So, are they deadly?

Scorpions sting more than 1 million people a year and kill more than 3000, according to science.org

Most scorpion stings range in severity from minor swelling to medically significant lesions, with only a few able to cause severe allergic, neurotic or necrotic reactions, according to Wikipedia

Might be different in South America but fit, healthy adults are unlikely to die from a scorpion sting in Europe.

I lived and worked in Greece for sixteen years or more, never seen a scorpion (I'm quite pleased to say). Scorpion bites - and deaths - would be in the news. In all the years I've been visiting / living in Greece I don't recall such an event.


That's scorpions, how about snakes?

There's around 21 varieties of snake found in Greece. The six varieties of viper, including the common European viper, a.k.a. adder, and the slender whipsnake are venomous and potentially dangerous to a greater or lesser degree. Also venomous, but harmless to humans, the European cat snake - a variation of which is known on Kefalonia as Snakes of the Virgin.

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Although Europe has a population of some 731 million people, snake bites are only responsible for between 1 and 7 (average of 4) fatalities each year, largely due to wide access to health care services and antivenom, as well as the relatively mild potency of many native species' venom
wikipedia

There's some interesting information on the Kefalonia geopark website including this piece of information:

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The only really dangerous snake living Kefalonia is the viper (Vipera ammodytes). Although it has strong venom, this snake hides from humans and attacks only when it feels threatened or has no other way to escape.

Reptiles and amphibians play an important role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Unfortunately, often people are too afraid of them so they have been killed without a reason.
Amphibians and Reptiles of Kefalonia-Ithaca Geopark


If you don't like snakes, bear this in mind:

"In the UK we have three native snake species and two non-native snakes that have become naturalised and established healthy breeding colonies at specific sites in the UK" - Jason Steel Wildlife Photography

Snake bites in the UK are increasing but by dangerous 'pet' snakes, the indigenous adder is venomous but pretty harmless: Evening Standard


And if the thought of a "scorpion infested island" scares you...

"It often comes as a surprise to most people to learn that we have had scorpions living and breeding here in the UK for over 150 years. The small Yellow-Tailed Scorpion, Euscorpius flavicaudis, has managed to set up at least one thriving colony, in an isolated area in SE England, despite the generally cool and mild climate here in the UK. These scorpions have been found on occasion at several coastal towns across the south of England over the years. The best known and most successful introduced population can still be found on the Isle of Sheppy, in Kent." Link