Known as ophidiophobia, (try to say that one five times fast), fear of snakes is said to affect around one-third of adult humans, making it the most common of the phobias.
New research suggests that primates have evolved an innate tendency to sense snakes – and spiders, too – and to learn to fear them. Young children, and even young monkeys, react fearfully to pictures of snakes, even when they have never seen a real one before. Researchers found that both adults and children could detect images of snakes among a variety of non-threatening objects more quickly than they could pinpoint flowers, frogs or caterpillars. This ability may have helped humans survive in the wild.
Still, snakes capture our imagination; we use them to represent evil, or at least questionable motives. In the Harry Potter series, the Slytherin House was the more sinister of the four, its members known for their wile and cunning. Professor Snape was also a rather spooky fellow…
Apart from our own innate instincts, what is it about snakes that is so frightening? Perhaps it’s because they undulate and slither in a deceptively slow manner, yet are capable of covering great distances with alarming speed. Perhaps it’s because some of them are capable of injecting us with deadly poison that kills within minutes. Perhaps it’s because they’re sssilent, capable of ssslithering and sssneaking up ssso sssoundlessly – although the heart-stopping buzz of a rattlesnake’s tail is little comfort.
Did you know there are around 700 different species of venomous snakes on the planet? Around 250 of these are capable of killing a human with one bite. The King Cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world, growing upwards of 18 feet in length. Pythons can grow to nearly 30 feet in length.
In India, there are as many as 250,000 snakebites recorded annually, with as many as 50,000 resulting deaths. In that country, snakes are worshipped as gods, and women often pour milk on snake pits. This hardly seems like an effective form of worship, however, since snakes have an aversion to milk. Maybe that’s why there are so many snake bites…
W.C. Fields once said, “Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite. And furthermore, always carry a small snake.”
Whatever the reason for it, most of us have only to imagine the feel of a snake slithering over our feet to send a fearful shiver up our spines. At the Cutting Edge Haunted House in Fort Worth, it’s more than just your imagination. We’ve got snakes – big ones, little ones, you name it! We’ve got snakes that could wrap around you and crush you like a banana.
We’ve got snakes that could swallow – well, let’s just say we don’t hire anyone below a certain height. We’ve lost too many of them.
But don’t worry, when you feel something brush softly against your arm or your leg, or see something moving in the darkness, it might not be a snake. It might be one of our giant spiders…