Why You're Afraid of Snakes, According to Science

For most people the idea of a slithery snake sneaking up on them is absolutely terrifying.

This even includes people who have never even seen a snake in real life- they’re afraid of just the thought/image of snakes!

The fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias in the entire world, despite the fact that many people who are afraid of snakes have never seen them or are not around venomous snakes.

We at Wildlife x Team work with wild animals and creatures every single day, yet many of us are absolutely terrified of snakes as well. Despite having extensive training in dealing with snakes, regularly safely removing them, etc. some of us still hate dealing with snakes more than any other wild creature.  

Humans aren’t the only one terrified of snakes. Some animals such as many types of birds will actually go out of their way just to kill snakes. You can see some footage of that in our YouTube video.

Here are two possible reasons you’re extremely afraid of snakes.

Our video version is awesome, which you can watch by clicking HERE.

You can also download the podcast by finding the podcast above then pressing the download button.


The first reason you’re possibly terrified of snakes has to do with conditioning. As a young kid we mimic behavior from our parents and other humans in order to fit in with them.

Kids don’t evaluate their behavior, which is why we can observe them doing absurd things, or in this case developing an irrational fear of snakes (despite not even being around them).

Are your parents, siblings, or friends terrified of snakes? If you’re terrified of snakes it’s probable that those around you are also scared of snakes.

Alternatively if you aren’t afraid of snakes it’s likely those around you aren’t afraid of snakes as well. Exceptions to this rule exist of course, though they’re less common.

This effect gets compounded with a psychological effect known as “groupthink.” When large groups of people believe a certain thing or follow a certain path, the more people will continue that path.

The more people that develop a fear of snakes, the more others are likely to develop the same fear in order to subconsciously fit in (or they observe this behavior as a kid and never evaluate whether it’s actually logical).

This was also a survival mechanism learned by early humans. If you observe a human getting hurt by something, it would be wise for your brain to become afraid of that thing instead of you having to learn that lesson personally.

The problem comes when we see people afraid of things that aren’t actually that much of a threat to us and so develop a phobia of it also.

Conditioning is extremely powerful, and combined with this second reason one of the reasons you are deathly terrified of snakes.


Some scientists believe that it is encoded in many human’s DNA for them to be terrified of snakes.

The reason for this is simple: it is believed we evolved from small animals, and small animals (even some medium-sized animals) are actively hunted by snakes for food.

It is believed that traces of this snake fear still exist in us today. Snakes in some regions of the world are also extremely deadly, being extremely venomous.

In some places in the USA venomous snakes are not so common, or they don’t have enough venom to kill you, but still humans from Africa (when we were evolving) who didn’t have a fear of snakes may have been killed off, and those who survived and were scared of snakes based on genes that encouraged fear of snakes.

This means that people who were afraid of snakes were more likely to reproduce and thus pass on the “fear of snakes” gene, whereas the other would get killed off over time.

Some scientists believe that it isn’t just that we’re naturally afraid of snakes, but of threats in general. Humans are exceptional at detecting anomalies and potential threats quickly. For example, the image of a gun isn’t innately terrifying however you subconsciously quickly realize what a gun can do especially when you hear about horrifying stories and see nasty footage.

Those who have been bit by a snake or associated negative memories with them are more likely to be absolutely terrified of snakes than those who have never seen a snake, however there is still a case that it is innately in our genetics simply because of the fact that snakes were historically dangerous to us humans.

How To Prevent & Remove Snakes

Now that we’ve gone over why you’re afraid of snakes, let’s cover some quick tips on how you can keep them away so that you don’t have to see any of these frightening beasts.

Our tips will help you keep your life & home snake-free if you’re a home-owner in an area that has snakes.

First however, if you have a snake problem or any wildlife/pest-related problem give us a call at 855-WILDLIFE or visit www.wildlifexteam.com for more information as we can handle the problem for you and give you more specialized tips on how to keep the pests out.

Anyways here are some tips on how to keep snakes away:

  1. Keep your yard free of clutter. Snakes are ambush predators, meaning they like to attack animals from a hidden location suddenly. Don’t give snakes any hiding spots
  2. Keep your grass short. Snakes hate being exposed and out in the open because birds like to hunt and kill them.
  3. Keep other pests such as cockroaches and large insects and small animals away from your yard and home so that there is no food sources that could attract the snake to you
  4. Patch up holes in your yard or home so snakes have nowhere to hide and breed
  5. Put up fencing that is snake-proof
  6. If you must work in the garden or yard and you’ve had a snake problem before, make some noise & vibrations by doing something like running a lawnmower nearby to scare the snakes
  7. Finally be safe if you think you have a problem by wearing thick boots or shoes that also protect the ankle, thick pants that cover the shoe, and thick gloves. Snake bites can be painful and if the snake is venomous potentially dangerous to your health.

We hope you found this post enjoyable and useful. Have a great day!

-Wildlife x Team International


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