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Home > Snakes > Are There Snakes in Ireland? What to Know Before You Travel

Are There Snakes in Ireland? What to Know Before You Travel

adder snake,Holm94, Shutterstock

Ireland is a country full of rich folklore and mythology, with many tales surrounding the Irish countryside, from banshees to leprechauns. The Emerald Isle has always had something strange on every corner. But what about snakes? Do they exist in this land of legends?

There are myths and stories about snakes in Ireland, but not one has ever been proven. Aside from pets or zoo residents, no snakes live in Ireland, and none ever have. Let’s talk about why this might be!

new snake dividerWhy Are There No Snakes in Ireland?

The reason is straightforward: Ireland is an island, surrounded by water on all sides. Snakes are cold-blooded, and the oceanic temperature is much too low for them to survive. Since they can’t swim across from the mainland, there has never been a native snake in Ireland!

Of course, we can’t prove that there have never been any snakes on Irish soil. Snakeskins have been found in many other parts of Britain and Northern France. This doesn’t mean these were native snakes to those places, of course. It just means that they existed at some point between 10,000 B.C. and 5000 B.C., when the last ice age ended.

Back then, Ireland was connected to Great Britain, so there might have been some snakes that crossed the channel. Or maybe they were brought in by traders from other countries. One thing’s for sure, though: The Irish were never blessed (or cursed) with the presence of snakes. In fact, the only venomous animals native to Ireland are three species of spiders.

Common Water Snake
Image By: Imageman, Shutterstock

Snakes in Irish History

While they may not have been present on Irish soil, snakes still managed to engrave themselves in Irish culture.

Legend has it that the famous St. Patrick was the one to drive all the snakes away from the island. There are conflicting stories about how he killed them all. Some say that he threw shamrock at them, while others say that he just cursed them. Either way, the island hasn’t seen a snake since!

Although this tale has been passed down through generations, there is no proof of any snake ever having existed on Ireland soil—
at least, not since the last ice age.

Is Ireland a Good Habitat for Snakes?

Suppose, hypothetically, that Ireland was once again connected to the mainland, and snakes were able to cross. What types of snakes would we find? Let’s have a look at the habitat! The country has an average temperature of 9.8°C (49°F), with cold winters and warm summers, though temperatures do sometimes reach exceptional highs or lows in some parts of the country.

irish countryside
Image By: Unsplash

Sandy soil is perfect for burrowing snakes like vipers and adders, but Ireland has plenty of peat bogs with little to no access to sand, so we would never find these types of snakes here.

Also, due to the climate, few reptiles can survive outdoors year-round without hibernating in winter. The chilly weather would kill off most lizards and snakes before they even had a chance to settle down. Due to this, Ireland is not a good habitat for any type of snake.


The 4 Places in the World Without Snakes

There are only a handful of places on Earth that are known to be snake free.

1. Iceland (and Other Sub-Polar Places)

Ireland_Sina Ettmer Photography_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Sina Ettmer Photography

Ireland isn’t the only place in Europe to have never had snakes—Iceland is also free of these reptiles. Furthermore, no one has ever been able to find any native species of snake in the subzero polar regions. They would likely freeze to death before they could settle down.

2. Antarctica

Image Credit: Pixabay

Just like Iceland and Ireland, Antarctica has no native species of viper or cobra. Besides the definite risk of freezing to death, there are no warm-blooded animals in this area to prey on!

3. New Zealand

Image Credit: Daniel Huebner, Shutterstock

New Zealand is also free of any land snakes. There are many native species of venomous and non-venomous snakes that have successfully adapted to the Australian ecosystem, though. New Zealand’s lack of native snakes could be due to it having never been connected to Australia, but we still don’t know for sure!

That said, there are marine snakes around New Zealand.

4. Newfoundland

Image By: Iviewfounder, Shutterstock

This giant island off the coast of Canada is entirely snake free. Not only are venomous vipers absent from this island, but non-venomous snakes have also never managed to settle here!

snake divider 2


There are no snakes in Ireland due to a combination of the climate, lack of habitat, and distance from any existing snake populations.

We have established why Ireland would be an extremely unsuitable home for any snake. The cold temperatures, lack of sand, and scarce reptiles all make it quite unlikely to find one here.

So, the next time you visit the Emerald Isle, don’t expect to see a reptile family with green skin or pointy tongues! Snakes aren’t native to Ireland and they never were. But do let us know if you find any fossils!

Featured Image Credit: Holm94, Shutterstock

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