“Ophidiophobia or ophiophobia is a particular type of specific phobia, the abnormal fear of snakes. It is sometimes called by a more general term, herpetophobia, fear of reptiles and/or amphibians.” You may be thinking to yourself , “abnormal fear?” The truth is that the fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias to have but many of those people who have this phobia have never even seen a snake in person, let alone get close enough to touch one.

Phobias can take over someone’s life, making day to day living so difficult that they are more preoccupied with avoiding their phobia then they are with just living their lives. Anthropologist Lynne Isbell has estimated that around a third of people are scared of snakes. Even many famous celebrities are afraid of these amazing animals …did you know that actor Matt Damon ‘cries like a baby’ whenever he’s near the reptiles? Sounds funny but it’s a real fear and not in the slightest amusing to anyone with this phobia. A phobia of something like reptiles is not just something that can be shaken off and forgotten about that easily in fact having a phobic attack can look something like this:

Symptoms of phobias

Typical symptoms associated with phobias can include:

  • Dizziness, trembling and increased heart rate
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • A sense of unreality
  • Fear of dying
  • Preoccupation with the fear object

Are we born with a natural fear of snakes?

Psychologists found that both adults and children could detect images of snakes among a variety of non-threatening objects more quickly than they could pinpoint frogs, flowers or caterpillars. The researchers think this ability helped humans survive in the wild. “The idea is that throughout evolutionary history, humans that learned quickly to fear snakes would have been at an advantage to survive and reproduce,” said Vanessa LoBue, a post-doctoral fellow in psychology at the University of Virginia. “Humans who detected the presence of snakes very quickly would have been more likely to pass on their genes.”

Babies were found to display an acute response to images of snakes and spiders with more dilated eyes than of images of nice things like flowers. They were not necessarily displaying fear, but an acute sense of being able to learn quickly if the object was something that they should fear. They learned to react as their parents would react. In other-words they were not afraid they learned to be afraid. The ability to quickly detect something that might pose a danger and to learn just as quickly to fear it is a great self defense mechanism that we are born with but sometimes this turns into an irrational and overwhelming fear that takes over their lives.

Can I do anything to get over my fear?

YES! Exposure is the best way to conquer you fear. New England Reptile Shows is dedicated to dispelling fears of these amazing animals including spiders too. We never do anything to make you feel uncomfortable, in fact we will go at your pace and make sure that you are comfortable before taking any forward steps whatsoever. We will take as much time as you need and slowly expose you to snakes one at a time, starting off with the smallest and cutest ones first and slowly moving up to the larger ones.

Read a first hand account of someone who overcame her fear of snakes with New England Reptile Shows: http://www.newenglandreptileshows.com/2017/06/18/how-to-conquer-your-fear-of-snakes/