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Name:  Pete
Status: student
Grade: other
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 4/11/2005

Hi, I am traveling to the north east coast of Brazil a place called natal in the early part of June and was just wondering if you could answer two questions.

What kind of poisonous creatures could I encounter there. Although we are in the city there are still a lot of vegetation and farm land around.

Also I wondered if you could tell me what kind of sharks are native to Natal and if any of them are dangerous to humans.

According to "Poisonous Snakes of the World", a US government publication for the armed forces, Brazil has several species of coral snakes (Micrurus, sp.) and pit vipers aplenty: fer-de-lance (Bothrops, sp), tropical rattlesnake (Crotalus, sp.)and bushmaster (Lachesis muta).

Sharks include, I am educated guessing here, most every man-eater there is (with the added amusement that bull sharks travel great distances up rivers).

I do not know invertebrate details but "bullet ants" come to mind. Have fun (but watch your step whether on land, sea, or river)

Michael Loop, Ph.D

Hi Pete!

I am glad to know that you will be traveling to Brasil. See, it happens I am Brazilian and live in Brasil, and also am one of the scientists from NEWTON.

Natal is a beautiful city (and resort) in Brasil, and you will find there all the normal facilities found in any civilized town. Wonderful beaches with good hotels and restaurants. Probably you will find there also some McDonalds and other fast food places.

At good restaurants the food, mostly sea food (crabs, oysters, shrimps, lobsters) is very good, clean and healthy. Beware of the pepper, some are very seasoned. Try at least once the "tapioca" made with manioc flour, real butter and regional cheese and if you like with grated coconut. It is superb!

You can see some informations about the city at


Now I assure you will not have the opportunity to find poisonous or dangerous animals, at the city or surroundings countryside.

Look at the site:


Even it is written in portuguese no need for you to read the texts as it is enough to see the beautiful natural fauna, trees and bushes at the "caatinga", natural ecosystem at the interior of Rio Grande do Norte state. Natal is the capital of that state.

At the surroundings of Natal there is the Parque das Dunas, (Dunas Park) a closed natural reserve for the animals , many in extinction. It is possible to visit the Park with guides,and if you are lucky you will be able to see some of them.

About the sharks they are not found at Rio Grande do Norte beaches or litoral, Sharks are only found near Recife (some 300 miles away) beaches because it is open sea there and these ferocious fishes only go near the open ocean.

Enjoy your trip! and Thanks for asking NEWTON!

(Dr. Mabel M. Rodrigues)

Brazil has many different poisonous creatures. The Bushmaster snake is very venomous, however, it likes to stay hidden and rarely bites anyone. You can find in the dense rain forests. Coral snakes are found all over South America and often venture into residential areas. The Fer-de-lance can be found on farms and will go into houses or barns in search of small rodents to eat. The tropical rattlesnake can be found in sandy places or on dry hill sides.

As for sharks, you might find nurse sharks, but they are not considered dangerous to man. The Sand tiger might also be seen there. They have been known to follow divers who have speared fish. The silky shark might also be found. Others might be the dusty shark, sand bar shark, lemon shark, scalloped hammerhead, and the southern sting ray.

As for any of these creatures being dangerous to you, the best advice is to stay alert and always watch where you step, whether on land on in water. If you are in part of the rain forest, walk on clear paths, do not go tromping off through thick plant life. Bring along a guide of all the wildlife in Brazil with you, this will help you identify the different snakes, lizards, and sharks you might see, and also provide you with information as to if these creatures can pose a threat to you. The best thing to do if you run into one of these creatures is to keep your distance and leave it be. If it is in your way, find a new way around it!

Grace Fields

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