Are you scared of snakes? You’re not alone.

Snake phobias are common. So common it’s often confused as not being a phobia at all, since people with them don’t seek help, as they see it as normal. But it is abnormal – it can interfere with people’s lives.

A third of all people in the world have reported a phobia of snakes, making it the most common amongst humankind.

When my housemate’s mother visits, I have to hide away my snake statuettes, and snake plushies, otherwise she risks having a funny turn. If my partner had a phobia of snakes, it would spoil things considerably. Fortunately he doesn’t, but many of you snake lovers might have that problem.

Remember, there’s a difference between a phobia and a general dislike. If you don’t like snakes because you fear their venom, that’s probably sensible. If you dread to think about them, feel ill or get anxious when they appear in books or TV, that’s probably when you should seek help.

Even if someone hasn’t had any negative experience with a snake, there are plenty of reasons for having the phobia. If we look at evolution, we can see why humans might have had genetic predispositions to have certain fears – spiders, snakes, heights – these are all things that posed a threat to our ancestors, and scientists theorise that we have these innate reactions to identify threats to our survival. Certainly, with this line of thinking, ophidiophobia and arachnophobia make more sense than a fear of needles, which humanity hasn’t had time to to become genetically predisposed to.

It’s recommended that anyone with a fear of snakes visit a qualified professional. Exposure is the best cure. Over a period of time, the sufferer is exposed to material which will get them used to the presence of the animal. It’s a tried and tested method, and we advise you go for it – snakes are wonderful creatures, and the more people that are comfortable around them, the better.

Anxiety Coach has some information regarding exposure therapy for those interested: find it here. For those wanting to learn more about snakes, see our page on feeding and care or our brief history of the snake’s place in culture.

Featured Image: Hello, how are you today? Reticulated Python, Netherlands. By Tom Jutte. Flickr.

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