We generally don't have many animals to fear in the wild here in Norway, and I rarely hear about people who have gotten injured or sick from attacks by wildlife. We do have some predators such as wolves, bears, wolverines, and lynxes, but the chance of getting attacked by them when on a walk in the forest is next to non-existent.
There are however a few animals to be wary of, and I met one of these yesterday during a small hike with some friends and my dogs.
This snake is a common European adder (Vipera berus), and it can be found in most parts of the Eurasian northern hemisphere. This is one of three species of snakes we have in Norway, and the only one that is venomous. It's pretty much the only animal with real venomous capabilities in Norway, but despite this, it's not really that dangerous. A bite can be fatal in worst case scenarios, but most bites are just a painful experience that are easily solved with antidote.
Meeting an European adder is not uncommon at all, and I find a few ones most summers. Some people I talk with claim to never have seen it before, but I think most people have been very close to one without even realizing. This guy is the first I have found this year, and I'm very happy that neither of the dogs ran towards it to investigate.
A bitten dog could get in a lot of trouble, and could for sure be fatal, since dogs tend to get bitten around their snouts. Both just passed by it, so I put them on a leash and returned to take some photos while they were at a safe distance.
The photos are not very close-up at all, because it would be so embarrassing to ruin the hike because I got stupidly close while trying to get a photo. Anyway, if you are familiar with this species then I'm sure you know that this individual is lacking the distinct zigzag patterns on its back. Most people learn to identify it by this alone, but it's important to remember that these completely black ones are also European adders, and that you should keep a safe distance from them .
The completely black individuals are called melanistic, and it is the complete opposite of albinism (where organisms lack all color pigments). Anyway, here is a great photo to see the two different color patterns that we can have on European adders:
Both these snakes are the same species, with one is a melanistic individual. Photo by Malene Thyssen, posted with the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Getting bitten by a European adder
While I did not get bitten by the adder this time, 11-year old me once got a bit reckless with one while playing in the forest. It's been 15 years since the incident, but I still remember the incident. I was walking around in tall grass when I felt a sting in my leg. I run a few meters back and see the culprit. I get a bit stressed out by the fact that I got bit by a venomous snake, and head straight home where my parents take me to the hospital.
I was at observation in the hospital for 6 hours or so before they could conclude that it was most likely a dry bite, meaning that the snake had bit without releasing venom. About half of all bites are dry bites, and these are obviously not dangerous at all.