“Kathleen, my fiancé and I are considering moving overseas and are researching different areas that we may like. I have just started reading your articles about Panama. I find the emails helpful and informative.
“I wonder if malaria is still a concern in Panama? What kind of poisonous insects, snakes, etc., are there?”
–Roxanne E., United States
Malaria and dengue both are concerns in all the tropics. That said, you’re safe in this country if you use normal precautions. Use bug spray, for example, and know the symptoms. Both malaria and dengue are treatable, the earlier the better.
Yes, there are spiders and scorpions in Panama, as well as snakes.
Venomous Snakes In This Country Include The Following:
Known as Verrugosa in Panama. These guys inhabit rainy forests and are mainly active at night (usually after midnight). The Verrugosa is brown with a few darker patches running down its body.
These are black, yellow, and red in color. There’s another snake that looks similar to the coral which are known as the Coral Falsa (Fake Coral). The way to differentiate the two is by looking at the yellow and black stripes. If the black is between two yellow stripes, then you’re looking at the Coral (venomous). If the yellow is between two black stripes, then you’re looking at the Coral Falsa.
Fer-De-Lance (Most Common)
Known as Equis in Panama. They’re mainly found on the ground, but can sometimes be seen on trees. The Equis prefers a humid environment and is mostly active during the night. This snake is brown, like the Verrugosa, but it’s head has a very distinct arrow shape.
Side-Striped Palm-Pit Viper
Known as Lora in Panama. They live on trees but can be found at the base of trees or on the floor. Their color is a vibrant green.
Before you venture into the forest or the jungle, familiarize yourself with what these snakes look like. If you see one, stay out of its way. None of these snakes are aggressive; they typically won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.
Panama is the world’s top overseas retirement haven…but everywhere, including Panama, has its downsides.
Snakes in the jungle are no reason to stay home, but you want to know about the snakes in the jungle before you take off for your hike.
“I’m wondering about insect problems in the outlying areas of Panama, for example Boquete and the beaches. I’m concerned, because I am very sensitive to insect bites and stings.”
— Charles F., United States
No place in Panama is bug-free. Frankly, no place in the tropics is bug-free. If you’re sensitive to bug bites, the beaches probably don’t make sense, not in Panama and maybe not anywhere.
Higher altitudes are probably a better choice. So, yes, Boquete might make more sense. The most bug-free zone I can recall from all my travels in Central and South America and the Caribbean is the Andes of Ecuador. There are bugs…but not so many bugs that bite.