I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes

Article written by Elaine Hayes

I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes Jim Stafford, the singer that sang that Number One hit in the ’70s hit the nail on the head!

Generally, people do not like spiders and snakes. So the good news is: If you are an ex-pat living in Panama, you don’t really have to worry about creepy, crawly things.

Yes, we do have them; every country does. But with the location that most choose to live in, and with planning and common sense, you stay away from them and they will stay away from you!

In this article, we will let you know what is in Panama, where the majority of the snakes and insects live, and what to do in your daily life to avoid them.  You’ll see a lot of unusual bugs in Panama, like this little guy below (you don’t want to touch him):

In interviewing an ex-pat couple who has lived in Panama since 2015, they have seen 2 snakes and two tarantulas, all outside and out of harm’s way. They have seen some scorpions and small spiders close to their home, but those were easily eliminated with little effort.

In general, you see as much or more scary stuff in the country that you grew up in, so if you are squeamish about snakes and insects, you can relax! You will mainly have to concern yourself with “no-see-ums” if you live in the mountains, and sand fleas if you live at the beach. A can of “OFF” can be your best friend in Panama. With that being said, here are some of the spiders and snakes that are in Panama.


Fer de Lance – The most dangerous snake in Panama’s jungles. It causes more deaths to humans than any other reptile. Its natural habitat is in the forest and near stream edges, although it can be found near plantations and near human dwellings. I’ve never seen one, but friends who live at lower elevations have seen them on their coffee farm.

Coral Snake – There are 11 different species of coral snakes in Panama, both poisonous and non-poisonous. The coral minds its own business and asks only to be let alone. However, they could attack a pet or person if they feel threatened.

It would, however, be very dangerous to step on one inadvertently with bare feet, so it’s best to always watch where you are walking! Note: The couple this article mentioned above have only seen 2 since they have been here. One was dead on a mountain road, and one was in the middle of a thick brush at the edge of a rental property. They have never seen a Fer de Lance.

I moved to Panama in 2010.  I have seen two dead snakes on the road, one snake on my property, and one snakeskin.  That’s not to say that there are no snakes on my property, but that is all that I’ve seen.  Some people have seen snakes on their patios or close to their houses.  Hiking groups have spotted snakes along the hiking trails too.  It’s a good idea always to be aware of your surroundings.

There are also sea snakes that come on the beach sometimes. This very poisonous snake was seen near San Carlos Panama. You should not get close to them even if they look like they are dead.


There are spiders of course, in Panama as there are anywhere else in this world. Most of them are seen while walking through nature trails. You will be on a walking path, and they will be seen in their web in trees. Anton Hill in Panama City is a good place to look at this kind of nature without having to worry about one crawling in your shoe!

There are also tarantulas, although for the most part they would be found deep in the forest or jungles of Panama.  Depending on where you live, you are likely to see a spider in your house once in awhile.

Scorpions are mainly found in the cooler parts of Panama in the higher elevations, although that being said, scorpions can be found in many parts of Panama. Especially if you live in the mountains, you learn to deter them from your habitat. Rubber door guards at the bottom of your doors leading to the outside and screens that tight around your windows will do a lot with keeping the outdoors out of your house.

scorpion in panama

It’s a good idea not to let your bedspread touch the ground because creepy crawlers could use it as a ladder to get into your bed.  If you get up to go to the bathroom at night, turn on a light and put some flip-flops on because scorpions and other critters move around at night.  You don’t want to step on them.

I’ve been stung two times by scorpions.  It feels like a bee sting, and the pain disappears within an hour.

There are also many environmentally friendly and natural pesticides that you can use to keep your patio and home critter-free! It’s a good practice to always shake your clothes and towels out before use, and turn your shoes over with a quick tap on the floor just to make sure there is no scorpion hiding.

Many people in Panama, put sticky paper under their dressers, beds, and sofa to capture any creepy crawlers that walk around at night.  Sticky paper is readily available throughout Panama.


The main complaint in Panama, when it concerns insects, is that of the “no-see-ums.” They as the name suggest very small and a tad annoying. You won’t know you have encountered one in most cases until you come in from sitting outside, and you will start itching. Very similar to a mosquito bite, they will leave a small whelp for a while and will itch. Again, your favorite can of insect repellant will alleviate you from having an itchy night. If you live on the beach, the same remedy can be said for the sand fleas you might encounter on the beach. These insects are not scary in so much as they are darn annoying!

You’ll definitely see some unusual and beautiful bugs when you live in Panama.  As a general rule, if they are fuzzy, don’t touch them because they could be poisonous.

There are also frogs in parts of Panama that you will have to be wary of if you own a pet that wanders outside. These are large frogs (cane toads) that come out at dusk and wander at night. If your animal comes up to one and licks them, they are extremely poisonous. It may sound silly, but even if a dog licks the excrement that is found or sniffs it and then licks its nose, it could be bad news. It’s best if you see frogs in your yard at night, just walk your dog on a leash or keep it indoors or in a safe area of your yard.

Now, there is a cute and welcome tiny little lizard that is good news. Panama has small geckos, and they are considered good luck if you see one crawling near the ceiling or wall in your home. Do not be afraid of them, they eat small insects, so just view them as a free and cute insect guard!

One couple who lives near the beach in Chitre heard the Christmas ornaments falling from their tree. When they went to investigate and found a large lizard climbing in the tree.  They chased it out of the house with a broom.

THE BOTTOM LINE to remember is that Panama is in a tropical region, but like most warmer weather places, it will have some creepy crawly things at times, and in certain areas. But for the most part, if you stay away from the jungles, and keep an insect repellent with you, do not fear moving to Panama! The main thing to watch out for is falling in love with some of the stray dogs and cats that are up for adoption in the ex-pat communities. Now, THAT is something to watch out for!

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. Gene Kraus says

    When i was a Boy Scout, we learned the rubric about coral snakes to tell poisonous from non-poisonous.
    It is about their bands of color and how they are adjacent to each other. “Red by yellow, kill a fellow. Red by black, friend of Jack”, Don’t know if that applies in Panama, but the picture on the site would be of a poisonous one.;

  2. Joan Morey says

    This was very informative, so thank you very much.

  3. Kenna Lake says

    Don’t think living in Panama is for me then.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Living in the tropics is not for everyone. But you should come see Panama before you decide.

  4. Rick Tully says

    I lived with indigenous Guaymi as a Peace Corps volunteer during the 70s . Dispatched several two steps found by our hunting dogs and many corals. Happened on several colonies of tarantulas. Here I am alive and happy in Florida. My advice is be aware of your surroundings and all will be well.

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