Are You Afraid of Snakes? Here's Why Humans Fear Snakes

One in three humans have a phobia of snakes or related reptilians. However, why is it that so many people innately fear snakes, having never seen them or even having the threat of snakes? 

In our modern world, snakes pose little threat to our day to day lives. Yet still the intense nightmare-causing fear of snakes remains.

In today’s post, we will be covering the recent science as to why we humans fear snakes so intensely.  

The video version of this post is terrifying… If you’re afraid of snakes. Proceed with caution and watch it by clicking HERE now. 

If you prefer not to watch horrifying snake footage, feel free to listen to or download the audio-only podcast by clicking on the podcast widget above. 

Fear of Snakes: The Previous Belief

Originally it was believed that people “learned” to become afraid of snakes. That is, it was something that was passed down generation by generation. 

Kids observe their parents and other adults around them and attempt to mimic their behavior.

If a kid observes an adult being terrified of something, then the child is likely to develop the exact same fear. 

Once theory - which is falling apart - is that people who are afraid of snakes cause their children to become afraid of snakes, and their friends, so on and so forth.

However, while this does play a part to some degree, recent evidence has shocked scientists. 

Neurons Dedicated For Snakes? 

Some recent studies appear to have identified “neurons” in the brain specifically for identifying snakes! 

Every human has these neurons, and for ⅓ humans, it causes a phobia. For everyone else, it can still cause a subtle degree of panic, alertness, or in some cases, excitement. 

Even if you aren’t afraid of snakes, it’s very likely that if you have came across one (ie. while hiking) you were instantly alerted while hiking. 

Studies have identified that in monkeys and in humans our eyes suddenly point towards snakes when snakes are included in a photo. This is true even if the human or monkey had never seen a snake before.

Furthermore, studies comparing adults and children suggest similar findings: if the fear of snakes were a “learned” behavior, then children wouldn’t be as afraid of and alerted by the presence or photos of snakes if they’ve never heard of them. 

However, even young children dart their eyes immediately to a snake in any photograph. 

Even when there are other oddities inside of a photograph, people most frequently identify the snake first, even if they claim NOT to have a phobia of snakes. 

This suggests that even if you aren’t afraid of snakes, you still have the neurons available to quickly identify them, so that IF you were in the wild you could safely handle the situation, or at the very least be more alert. 

The Human Eye Development

The bottom half of human eyes (that is, the bottom half of your vision) is more developed than the other half. 

This makes obvious sense - there aren’t many threats flying around in the sky, meanwhile almost all of nature’s threats will be in front of you or in the bottom half of your visual perception. 

Try one interest trick: while out in nature or appreciating a sunset, lay down and tilt your head upside down and look at the same thing. 

You may suddenly realize that the colors become more vivid, beautiful, and stand out more. Suddenly you can see more detail! 

This is because the bottom half of your visual perception is more attuned and aware. Making the world “upside down” will cause this part of your eyes to give more attention to the sky, suddenly making you appreciate the clouds more, or making the colors appear to become “brighter” or more “saturated.” 

Scientists have suggested that snakes have led to this evolutionary development - the bottom half of our eyes are excellent at identifying potential threats, snakes being among them. 

The Innate Fear of Snakes

It is normal to have an innate fear of snakes if you have it. You are joined by 33% of other humans. 

Of the other two-thirds of humans that don’t have a phobia, we are all still on high alert for the detection of threats, which has always been quite the danger from an evolutionary standpoint. 

Let Us Handle Your Fear

If you have a wildlife/pest infestation in or near your home - including snakes - don’t hesitate to let the experts handle it. 

We at Wildlife x Team International specialize in safe & responsible removal of wild animals & pests, restore any damage they may have caused, and prevent it from happening again. 

Call us at 855-WILDLIFE

Or visit our website at 

You can also click here to CONTACT US or FIND A LOCATION near you. 

Thanks for reading! 
-Wildlife x Team International 

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