Parklife in Abruzzo

Happiness is... dung for a dung beetle

A very happy little dung beetle out and about one morning

Creepy Crawlies, Boar, Bears & Wolves in Abruzzo

Although we don’t have mosquitoes up in Bascianella there are other little things to watch out for whilst holidaying in Teramo province, Abruzzo.  Most tourists to the area are enthralled by the expanse (1,60 sq km) of our doorstep nature reserve – the National Park of Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga but that amount of glorious parkland on your doorstep naturally increases the chance of running into creepy crawlies or something that slithers rather than runs.

Over the summer it is wise to check your shoes before putting them on and if you are outside keep some flip flops on for knocking around in rather than walking bare foot. We have only seen the remains of half a dead one, which was very, very small, but there are scorpions out and about.  They are too small to seriously harm or kill you but can still give a nasty feeling bite.

Snakes, there are a few… the average short-life expectancy in Abruzzo a few hundred years ago was once governed by the large number of snakes present, but generally most of the snakes today are non-venomous, there are some large grass snakes – good for keeping down the creepy crawlies, and some large black snakes that you will see basking on the roads or on roofs that are good keeping in check mice and their bigger rodent friends.

However, in saying that, there is one venomous snake to watch out for – the Orsini Viper.   These come in various shades of dark green to dark brown but what will help identify them as poisonous rather than pettable is the distinctive  ^  marking along their backs. Like a lot of wildlife they will try and keep a wide berth away from you but in case something terrible happens and you and their small fangs come into direct contact, it’s best to take a trip to our nearest local hospital in Teramo just to be checked for any type of bite. It is extremely rare that an Orsini snakebite is life threatening, you will feel very queasy in all the wrong ways, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you run into boars either on the road or out walking please don’t try and pet them or go near them, they DON’T like humans and they especially DON’T like cars, so try and move away without a fuss in a confident manner.

We can almost guarantee that you will sadly never bump into a Marsican Brown Bear face or a local wolf face to face.  For reference the bears are protected within the national park itself and let’s hope they stay within the boundaries: there is Abruzzo village gossip of the rich Romans who pay hard up park guides to go ‘wild-boar hunting’ on the chance premise of accidentally bagging a bear if they accidentally stray across the park line.  Perhaps that ‘hearsay’ is to detract from the sporadic but regular deaths of the bears by poison.  Through hunger the bears’ foraging has meant they frequent local farms and enjoy the best of Abruzzo produce including local lambs and guess who then pays the ultimate price?  Ultimately the Italian WWF will always have a problem on its hands balancing human sustainability vs wildlife conservation.  Due to that reason they will do their utmost to shy away from you, so show them a little respect and give them the space they’re craving for if you are so blessed.

Roddy Newlands
Author: Roddy Newlands

Roddy Newlands is an Associate Member of Life In Abruzzo, as well as antique book dealer and web and graphic designer. Abruzzo allows him to get his mountain-air fix, & satisfy his passion for pasta & panettone.

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