Why are people afraid of snakes

Snakes are one of the most fascinating animals in the animal kingdom. With some firm handling, a lot of them can be tamed as pets. There are many snakes that are harmless to humans but some are deadly. They may be poisonous or predatory in some other way.

Hence, snakes are not suitable pets for everyone. They have difficulty handling requisites and their handling should be taken by those with its knowledge and training. If you’re new in petting snakes, you should first find out what about its species, environmental biology, and food etc.


Snake phobia is one of the most common fears around the world. However, a great population of people hasn’t even seen a real-life snake. Scientifically, fear of snakes is termed as ophidiophobia as we may discuss later. But the real question is how this fear of snakes takes shape?

It’s difficult to refute how much snakes are scary as several of them are venomous. As there are other factors out there which make the people’s skin crawl also thinking about them. Some researchers have also given their hypothesis and theories about its cause. They have discussed this fear by the help of many anthropologists and tests.

Researchers proposed

Some researchers proposed that humans have developed an inborn affinity to sense snakes. Therefore, they have come to acquire fear from them. Psychologists have tested this belief that adults & children could notice pictures of snakes from a range of non-threatening stuff.

They can detect dangerous creatures like snakes more rapidly than they could locate frogs, flowers and other objects. The researchers think this skill helped human beings survive in the uninhabited or desolate areas. The suggestion is that during evolutionary times, human beings found out swiftly that fearing snakes could be advantageous to their survival. It helped them avoid danger and live their life longer compared to others. But they were remarkably capable of perceiving them in the environment after a suitable age of 8 to 10.

Statistically speaking

Statistically speaking, researchers have shown that about 5% of the population in the world has developed ophidiophobia. The question then arises if we are born with an inborn sensitivity towards snakes, then why do some keep them as pets knowingly? However, some people have an intense fear when they observe their presence anywhere near them.

Parental supervision

The researchers answered that parental supervision plays an important role in how much fear can develop if not addressed by parents or even friends. Parental care and education play a great role in understanding this malady. The human brain has developed up to such levels that it responds quickly to the presence of snakes. Due to snakes being the apex predators in the early history of humans, they have a long relationship with them also.

Their presence still causes fear

Although some snakes are not so dangerous or harmful towards people. But their presence still causes fear to them.

The first question arising in a person’s mind is “How do human beings obtain this fear in their life-span?” A person may have different encounters with a snake at some part of his life.

This may also attribute to its fear also. The individual may have perceived someone else develops this fear. Some people have seen some snake or the person may have read a creepy story about snakes.
Snake phobia is so common that almost all human beings have it.

It Is Rooted in Our Survival

According to research by the University of Oxford and London, it’s rooted in our survival instincts to fear snakes. They learned by hit and trial method that anything bitten by a snake is bad and learned to avoid them. Hence, your phobia is for a legitimate reason.

As told before this helped our ancestors survive tough environments. This helped them develop a healthier vision and larger brains among their offspring are also. Researchers showed in a brain wave test and found that individuals showed a high response to snake images in their brains.

How to overcome the fear of snakes?

Productive treatment of this fear may be found in exposing the person the feared object from time to time. Thus, emphases should be given on de-sensitization and contact with snake species to that person. This makes the person getting used to the species and desensitizes them completely of its phobia eventually. If an individual has snake phobia and it’s causing him/her trouble leading a normal life.

The best remedy served to him will be to make that person believe that this phobia is his problem and sooner or later he must deal with it. He should not take it as your burden and should focus to find its treatment. If he is trying to avoid curing than, don’t waste time and energy to accuse him as it will only cause him to insult to injury.

Training is available

At hand, several well-designed pieces of training are available for treating fear of snakes and animals. These training cannot be implemented for snake phobias but other animal phobias to handle such as a spider, sharks, crocodiles, and other creepy creatures.

The most widely used method for curing fears is the exposure of that individual towards the feared animal. However, the exposure should not be for hours but should be done timely or it may not affect the individual at all. The experience happens steadily. Like the person may watch the animal from afar. These small activities will eventually scrape away the fear restraining the person or individual frightened by its very presence.

The intensity of its exposure increased

By the time the fear begins to scrape away little by little, the intensity of its exposure is increased. In the end, there will come a time when the individuals will forget their fear and live normally. The person may even pet the creature or try to feed it if all goes correct.

For the need of the exposure to be effective, it should happen by the census of the person that wants better results. You will additionally intensify the probability of accomplishment if it’s done by the consent of the person being cured. Once you have thought of helping the person, make it your mission to stay with the person until his/her fear calms down.

Different locations

The person should try to time the exposure in different locations and different timetables to increase its effectiveness also. As time passes by overprotective cues and other protective behaviors should be removed little by little. This helps the observer, getting high success in order to overcome this fear which is mandatory for the person in need.

The more you avoid this exposure, more likely it will interfere with your daily job routines like work, School etc. People are aware that avoidance of such behavior may seem hectic at first. But it serves a larger purpose and helps the person face this challenge in long term. Facing these challenges head-on helps you find that your fears are unfound and very least exaggerated.

Safety activities

Safety activities can inhibit the profits of disclosure with this kind of exposure, hence should be removed slowly. The removal of these hurdles depends upon the person facing this dilemma and only he should decide when is the right time to increase exposure intensity or remove protective behaviors. For if not done properly, this may not only damage the person’s progress in facing his fear but also scar him or her for life.

Some examples of removing this fear

As a person’s fear factor decreases, he should try to remove his/her overprotective measures and enjoy his surroundings. Some examples of removing these overprotective behaviors in a person’s daily life are as follows.

These are extreme examples but if you have this sort of fear these steps will help:

  • A person should stop checking his backyard for snakes every time of the day.
  • Going to bed with your lights turned and checking your bed every time before sleeping.
  • Checking the insides of your car just before sitting inside.
  • Avoiding checking a pet store for animals, in case you see the animal you are frightened to see. Believe minor tasks help.
  • Even changing the channel when the animal you are afraid of is showing on T.V or even on the internet and many more.

These small steps help in the long term when trying to overcome this fear. You can take help from institutes and other friends also to overcome it. However, you must first be willing to take some chance also.

Do and don’ts for overcoming this fear

There are some Do’s and Don’ts for helping and overcoming this dilemma also. As there are some activities which a person avoids in order to help that person facing this phobia. For any kind of other phobias also as he or she is a fighter in its own way. They are as follows:

1) Don’t mock the person who has fear or phobia.

2) Don’t let him become irritated instead of comfort him.

3) If the person does become irritated, keep that to yourself.

4)  Let him unwind before the next practice.

5) Never push him even if things are progressing slowly.

6) Strategies for respective exposures also perform after a few incidents as the person becomes stressed or irritated also.

7) When trying to overcome the fear of snakes don’t force the person.

8) Even if he or she is trying to avoid your methods and training in this way, don’t force them.

9) He/she will become more stressful and cause insult to injury to their progress if they are in non-compelling position.

10) In place of obligation, deliver care and reassurance to try again if more likely.

11) Don’t act dreadful or appalling when working together with them.

12) Showing frightful response to the animal the person is trying to face could make the other person fearful.

13) Different people need different strategies for reducing this fear factor.

When trying to help someone overcome this fear you should know that not everyone is the same. There are different tactics for dealing with different people when facing this dilemma. As they respond differently to every situation.

More helpful tips

It is problematic for anyone to tell what a person must try to do when facing his fear. But some helpful things are as follows:

1) Be enduring and helpful to the person trying to overcome his fear

2) Try to send a tolerant attitude towards the person trying to overcome his fear

3) Know the other person is in control as it is up to him to face this malady and accepting it.

4) Try to be considerate, even when exposure is taking longer and it’s not affecting him/her in any way.

5) You must not give up as you know helping is a lot tougher.

Studies have shown that to overcome this fear “You have to face your fear”. It may be time-consuming, it may be hectic. But in the end, this is the only strategy that works. The more you expose yourself the less frightened you become in handling your fear.


According to a scientist named Hoehl, this dilemma is because spiders and snakes have been coexisting in society. Ever since early times, they have been interacting with our ancestors. Since then the contact with these creatures has grown. Inside Amygdale (brain part which helps in thinking and emotions) long before the dangerous animals present today in our time. We have come to accept that these animals are more common than those present today. Hence, you can say that due to our ancestors’ teachings for survival. We have become programmed to avoid these animals and fear them in the end. As time passed by, we have learned ourselves from our ancestors that these creatures are harmful to us.

It seems that this is a genetic tendency of definite fears for some fears as it’s easy to attain than some other. They seem more unsafe to individuals in our extended history. Some people have found this phobia due to bad misadventure with the respected creature. “As we can say that it is difficult to acquire any fears from rabbits or any loving creatures. But it’s easier to be frightful of those creatures that may pose a threat in the future”. The scientist added, “This fear was not innate but actually learned through the trials of our forefathers in the end”

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