Are There Snakes In Ireland? Sssurprising Facts You Might Not Know

Aashita Dhingra
Oct 10, 2023 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Woodland in Galway city suburbs in Connacht region of Ireland.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 4.8 Min

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic.

It is the second largest and most populated island in the British isles. Apart from regions like New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Hawaii, Ireland is a famous serpent free country.

There are no native snakes in Ireland. Ireland's wildlife might not be diverse but it has some of the most interesting animals.

This snake-free island has always been a mystery. People are still confused about the myths and scientific explanations as to whether there are snakes in Ireland.

The legend of Saint Patrick has grabbed the attention of people from all over the world.

To know more about St Patrick's influence on the snake population (legend of Saint Patrick) and emerald isle or emerald island, take a look at the bunch of facts we have put together for you. Once you have finished this article do check out our other articles on Hognose Snake Facts and are there snakes in Hawaii.

Why doesn't Ireland have snakes?

Similar to regions like Hawaii and Iceland Ireland is also completely devoid of snakes. Ireland did have snakes when it was a part of Europe.

But due to the arrival of the ice age around three million years ago many cold-boded animals and reptiles including snakes were wiped out. Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles that are not capable of producing their own body heat when the temperature changes.

The Ice age made the island non-breedable for snakes. After the last ice age (10,000 years ago) snakes went back to northern and western Europe as they were not able to survive the harsh winters.

Fun fact: Legend of Saint Patrick is one of the most famous myths. St Patrick, a 5th century missionary to Ireland, born in Britain went on a snake hunting spree and banished all the snakes of Ireland. As per the bible, serpents were considered to be a symbol of the devil.

This forced St Patrick to banish snakes from the island. The legend of St Patrick is extremely well known. St Patrick's day is a national holiday in Ireland observing the death of St Patrick.

What type of snake was found in Ireland?

There are two theories to the question. One is that there were no snakes in Ireland, the other is that several species of snakes were found before Saint Patrick banished all of them along with the ones in the emerald isle or emerald island.

You have probably heard bout St Patrick's Day. Saint Patrick was a bishop born in Britain.

This Britain born bishop strongly believed that snakes were a symbol of evilness. So he drove them all out in the 5th century while he was converting the people of Ireland from paganism to Christianity.

He drove them all to a mountain where he had starved for 40 days and pushed them all into the sea. Nigel Monaghan, a naturalist (National Museum of Ireland in Dublin) has said that 'at no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland' and that the legend of Saint Patrick is just a myth.

From a scientific standpoint, there are no fossil records to prove that Ireland had snakes. All other regions similar to Ireland like Greenland and Iceland are devoid of snakes due to the extremely cold conditions.

By the last ice age, Ireland and Europe were separated by a 12 mile (19.3 km) water gap called the north channel. Crossing this and reaching the island would have been impossible for the snakes. Even if they did these cold blooded snakes in Ireland would not have been able to breed and reproduce.

snake wide angle macro portrait on a branch of a tree.

Why does Ireland have no trees?

Ireland's land regions were once filled with lush oak and timber trees. Now it is one of the least forested areas in Europe.

As of 2020, only 11 percent of the entire lad is populated. Though it is comparatively very low, Ireland has made a huge improvement from its previous percentage which was just 1.2.

Irish people depended on timber and oak tree for their livelihood. In order to make ends meet Irish had to cut down a large number of trees. English monarchs also had a fair share in the deforestation process.

With the intention of providing plantations to English and Scottish settlers, they cleared all the huge forests. This along with the growing need for industries and other buildings quickly made the whole land almost forestless.

What is the most dangerous animal in Ireland?

Cows are by far the most dangerous animals in Ireland. This definitely is a funny answer. You are probably thinking how is a cow one of the most dangerous animals. Irish wildlife was not always like this.

It did have several deadly animals like bears and wolves several years ago. Fossil records prove that there were numerous bears in this region. Due to deforestation and habitat loss, they became extinct 2,500 years ago.

In 1786 Ireland's last standing wolf was also killed in Mount Leinster. In almost all regions native snake species always make it to the most dangerous animals list. But there are no traces of Ireland's snake population.

The country never had any snake species. Other dangerous insects like hornets, scorpions, and spiders are also absent.

Few species of spiders that are in Ireland do not pose any threat and are non-aggressive. The only insects in Ireland that cause mild disruptions are bees, wasps, and houseflies. It is one of the islands with the least number of dangerous animals.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Are There Snakes In Ireland?

What's So Special About Snakes In Ireland then why not take a look at Are There Penguins In The North Pole? The Truth Might Shock You!, or Aquatic Ecosystem: Understanding Curious Ecosystem Facts For Kids facts pages?

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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