Snakes and why people get scared of them

No matter what anyone tells you, a healthy fear of snakes is a good thing for anyone who could come in contact with them. Snakes can turn any other animal into prey(save maybe alligators), and they even scare the biggest predator of them all – humans.

Nature was clearly generous with snakes – they seem almost perfectly-built for hunting and killing, doing away with any bodily parts that could slow down or otherwise impede them. Let’s examine what snakes can do to a person, and what is it about them that scares humans so much.

The lethality of the snake

Snakes generally kill their prey in one of two ways – venom or strangulation. It would be hard to decide which one is more unpleasant, but let’s start with the venomous attack.

There are very few animals or insects on this planet who can secrete something as powerful as the snake’s venom: some spiders, certain scorpions and maybe the odd caterpillar. Different snakes have venom of different potency, although none of them will brighten up your day.

While not a particularly imposing snake, the cobra’s venom has achieved mythical status – in most circumstances, getting bit by a cobra probably means you’ll have someone reading you your last rites very soon. Antivenom can help, but good luck getting to the exact type of antivenom in the short amount of time that you have.

What’s worse is that some snakes’ venom doesn’t outright kill the prey or even knock it out, instead merely paralyzing it. The helpless prey is then forced to watch as the much smaller snake devours it whole.

Other snakes, like the anaconda, don’t have much in the way of poison but instead have exceptionally long and powerful bodies. They use them to wrap around the prey faster than you can say ‘Yahtzee!’, quite literally squeezing the life out of the victim in a small amount of time.

Astoundingly enough, even a venom-free snake of small size still has the tools to maim us – the snake’s fangs can inflict a surprising amount of carnage on whoever is bitten, sometimes causing paralysis or puncture of vital points. In this sense, a snake could kill you simply by biting the right place on your body.

Why some people are absolutely terrified of snakes

It might seem like a strange question to ask after the facts listed above, but it’s still one worth answering: why do some people have a true phobia of snakes, while some don’t mind seeing them or even being around them?

Well, it’s thought that a fear of snakes – just like a fear of spiders – is an evolutionary remnant from a time when our ancestors would fall to snake attacks on a regular basis. With very little means of fighting back against their quick and elusive bodies, early humans must have developed a pathological fear of the snake population that transferred onto modern-day humans. This is why you might find yourself overwhelmed with terror just from seeing the picture of a snake, or witnessing one in person behind solid glass – your ancestors might have had a few bad run-ins with them.