• NATURE

      Garden snake (Photo - Jean Sudbury).

      Garden snake (Photo – Jean Sudbury).

      The fear of snakes, or Ophidiophobia, is a very common phobia. Nearly 1/3rd of adult humans are believed to have an intense fear of snakes.

      By Jean Sudbury

      For people with severe Ophidiophobia, the mere mention, or an image of a snake in a book or on TV can lead to an intense panic response. Snakes are fascinating creatures which have myths and mysteries associated with them in literature, music, poetry and other expressive media. These myths contribute to the fear of snakes. This (and the fact that some snakes are venomous and can lead to death) has probably led some people to Ophidiophobia.

      Fictional case
      Ophidiophobia is a characteristic of adventurer Indiana Jones.

      Historical Case
      The Famous Snake from the Bible: Genesis 3:15

      We all know that story.

      “As it came to pass…” It is taught that the snake was evil and tempted Eve to seduce Adam to take a bite of the apple, the fruit of knowledge of  “good and evil.” The young couple was thrown out of Paradise and left to fend for themselves. Somehow, they managed to survive and start a civilization. Hmmm…. how did they do that? It seems that knowledge is not such a bad thing after all. Another version of the story portrays the snake as the wisest of all creatures. Through Eve and the apple, the snake shares wisdom and insight to Humanity. I like that version. I would rather take credit for something good than be blamed for something bad.

      Here are 10 reasons to like snakes.

      1- Most are harmless

      Southern California is known to have 33 native snake species. Out of these 33 species, only six of the species are venomous. For someone who might be afraid of getting bit by a snake, it is said that they use their venom wisely, and would rather not waste it on the human species.

      2- Beneficial

      Back yard snakes like to eat mice, chipmunks and other small animals. Smaller snakes eat little insects and worms.

      3- Scary but not really

      One could be frightened by a snake because they seem to stare. Their eyes are protected by transparent scales rather than moveable eyelids. Their eyes are always protected but seem open.

      4- They have personalities

      Snakes, like any other living creatures, have personalities. Sometimes one might be frightened, protective or angry, and bite. That can be quite disconcerting, even if the snake is not venomous, or unable to penetrate the skin. That is a good reason to be nice to snakes.

      5- They made us smart

      Venomous desert snakes, jungle snakes, and constrictors were a threat to Early Humans. It has been said that the fear of predatory snakes helped develop the intellectual process and the keen eyesight in modern Humans. That is an interesting parallel to the Bible story.

      6- Charming

      In snake charming performances, snakes respond to movement, not the sound.

      7- Interesting

      Snakes smell with their tongues.

      8- Fascinating

      Some sea snakes breathe partially through their skin. That allows them to stay under water for long periods of time.

      9- They help stop diseases

      Garden snakes love to eat ticks. That indicates that they help stop Lyme disease from spreading. When a snake gobbles up a mouse which might have been infected with this disease, the whole thing is digested, including the disease. That includes the messenger (the tick), the message-sender (the mouse), and the message itself (the bacteria).

      10- Groundskeepers

      The common Garter Snake, Racer Snake, Green Snake and other non-venomous snakes like to come out and explore in the garden at night. As they explore, they spread their guano about the garden. Snake guano is a good additive for a fertile garden. It recycles the good organic products which make the plants strong. The next generations of plants in a snake-friendly garden will be stronger and stronger. In that way, snakes could be considered live-in groundskeepers.

      Editor’s Note: This article is updated from 2017 with more pertinent information.

      > READ MORE: Five Reasons to Like Lizards


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      Comments

      1. Mary says:

        Really, am always scared, hearing of snake or seeing them, and that why am interested in reading this article to at least reduce my fear,

        And will really appreciate if I could know more about them
        Thank

      2. I do some work with wildlife on the east coast. I’ve learned to say that snakes are either venomous or non-venomous, not poisonous. Poisonous means that eating the snake or drinking the venom would kill us, or, at the very least, make us sick. It’s only when the venom is injected by the snake or sprayed in our eyes, for example, that we, as Humans, are in deep trouble. So, when we refer to snakes that bite, they are either venomous or non-venomous, not poisonous.

      3. Todd Stauffer says:

        It’s interesting how you said that most snakes are harmless and very few are actually poisonous in any way. My kids keep asking for a pet and we have been thinking about getting them a non-venomous snake. We’ll have to look into some different species and see if that would be a good thing for them.

      4. Dim says:

        I really wanted to read this, but all the snake pictures made me quit after the one with the fly. I don’t know who your target audience was, since it surely wasn’t people like me who have the phobia. I mean, I think if that was the case you wouldn’t have put so many pictures of snakes in between the text, right?

        “For people with severe Ophidiophobia, the mere mention, or an image of a snake in a book or on TV can lead to an intense panic response.”

        You say this yourself, even. (In my case I could get past the first two, but after that it became too much)

        Honestly, there are people like me who would like to overcome their phobia or at least bring it down to a regular fear of a lesser magnitude, but that’s kind of impossible when you’re trying to read positive things regarding the thing you fear so much and at the same time in your peripheral vision all you can see is pictures of that thing.

        I got too panicky and anxious and couldn’t move on.

        All in all, in case you did this with the intention of making people with the phobia see the good in snakes, I would say you didn’t make a good choice with the pics. But if it was meant to be targeted at snake lovers, who just want to read good things about the animals (and probably think “they’re so cool, how can people hate and fear them?!”) than it was just my mistake thinking it would be beneficial to me to check this article out.

      5. Alicia says:

        Snakes are not poisonous; some are venomous. Snakes do not see through their eyelids, & those that are part of “snake-charming” performances have usually either had their teeth removed (with no anesthetic, of course) or have had their mouths sewn shut (again, no anesthetic), both of which are extremely painful & will lead to a very quick & painful death due to starvation, since they can’t eat.

      6. Afton Blake says:

        Enjoyed both the snakes and the bees.

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