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Every Live Snake is a Good Snake: How to Cure People's Fear of Snakes

By Edited Jan 11, 2014 0 0

Many people think that “The only good snake is a dead snake”. Most people have this notion because of fear. This fear can be caused by many different things, but it is mainly caused by the lack of a proper education about snakes. In some cases, if someone knew just one true fact about snakes, then they wouldn’t be as afraid of them anymore. Some people believe that snakes are demons. This is because of movies that portray snakes as demons, and because the Bible uses snakes as something to be feared. When people think of snakes they usually exaggerate everything, including stories about snakes that they may retell. One thing about snakes that people lack knowledge of is which are venomous and which aren’t, which scares people even more. People think “The only good snake is a dead snake” because of fear, and people fear snakes because of movies, stories they hear, and how they perceive what the bible says about snakes, but mainly because of a lack of knowledge about them.

People who think “The only good snake is a dead snake” usually think this because of fear, not solid facts. The fear of snakes leads to exaggerated reactions to snakes, whether in stories told about them or actual encounters with them. A simple poll on Facebook shows, “Most of the time when you hear of snakes, you hear of someone being bitten or killed by one. No one ever mentions a snake if it didn’t come into direct contact with them (direct contact meaning being bitten or something like that)”. If people started telling good stories about snakes, instead of just telling the bad ones, then they wouldn’t appear as scary. Also, if people were better educated about snakes, then they would be able to better judge a story about snakes that was told to them. Anyone who knows a few facts about snakes is able to tell how true or exaggerated a story about snakes is.

 Another reason people are afraid of snakes is because of a snake’s cultural role. In almost every movie that has a snake or snakes in it, the snake or snakes are shown in an evil, frightening way. For instance, in the movie Prince of Persia, the Hassansins (Hassansins are highly trained assassins with evil powers) use snakes to help them assassinate people. In Prince of Persia snakes are also used to give the “lair” of the Hassansins a creepy and unwelcoming feel. The Hassansins use snakes as weapons and “minions”, which is a very influential part of the movie. Snakes are shown in frightening, evil ways in many other movies as well, such as Harry Potter, Snakes on the Plane, or Indiana Jones. Because of scenes in movies like these where snakes are portrayed as evil and creepy, many people are influenced to be scared of snakes. Movies aren’t the only place where a snakes frightening cultural role is used. Snakes are also portrayed in haunting ways in books, freak shows, and photographs. Nearly every time a snake is used in any matter, it is done to pull off of people’s fear of them. If snakes weren’t used so often as a way to frighten people, then less people would be afraid of them.

Some people are scared of snakes because of the Bible. Snakes are referred to many times in the bible, and most of the time they are shown in a bad way. Because of the Adam and Eve story when Satan appears as a serpent and encourages man to first sin, humans naturally have a fear or uneasiness about snakes. Also, because of this story, most people associate snakes with the devil, demons, evil, or other things of that nature. Snakes aren’t only mentioned in the bible as bad, evil things. “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs” (NIV, ex. 7.10-12). In this Bible story God transforms Aaron’s staff into a snake to show His awesome power. How can God’s awesome power be seen as a bad thing? Other things are used in the Bible as bad things, but people aren’t scared of them today. In the Bible God uses rain to flood the earth and drown every human and living thing on earth except for Noah, his family, and the animals on his ark. In this story, rain is shown as something much scarier than any time a snake or serpent is used in the Bible, with the possible exception of the Adam and Eve story. But are a large majority of people afraid of rain?  Also, God uses locusts many times to ruin the crops of different nations and peoples. Are people cowering in fear over locusts? If people think about why they are scared of something, and educate themselves about it, then maybe they wouldn’t be as afraid of it anymore.

Many people have the “The only good snake is a dead snake” notion because they don’t know much about snakes. A simple poll on Facebook shows, “Most people don’t know anything about the difference between non-poisonous and poisonous snakes and prefer them all dead in case any of them are poisonous,” This is very true. First of all, no snake is poisonous, but some snakes are venomous. Since poison is ingested, snakes aren’t poisonous. But venom is injected, so snakes are venomous. Snakes themselves aren’t poisonous, but some do hold venom, and will use it via their fangs when threatened or hunting. If people knew this simple fact they may not be as scared of snakes as they once were, especially since “poison” makes one think that if someone so much as touches it they will be infected. Most people see a snake and immediately assume that it is venomous. If a father saw a snake that he believed to be venomous in his back yard where his son plays baseball, he would most likely want to kill it. What most people don’t know is that there are only 4 types (20 species) of venomous snakes in the United States. Unless you live in the middle of a venomous snake’s habitat, you are extremely unlikely to encounter one, and even if you do, you most likely won’t be bitten by it. Remember, if snakes are left alone, then they won’t attempt to harm people. Here are some facts that would help people not be as scared of snakes: 4.7 million people are bitten each year in the United States by their pet dogs, 34 of which are fatal. In contrast, 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, out of which maybe 12 are fatal. These statistics include all venomous snakes, not just pets ones, whereas the dog bites and fatalities listed are only from pet dogs. People who fear snakes should better educate themselves about them, that way they wouldn’t be as scared of them.

The main reason people fear snakes is because they don’t know many true facts about them. There are many misconceptions people have about snakes. One mistaken belief about snakes is that they are slimy. Snakes are not slimy at all. In order for a snake to be slimy, it would have to have some sort of slime gland, which is does not. Another misconception people have about snakes is that they think a snake will hunt down people and try to kill anything that crosses its path. This is also untrue; snakes won’t hunt and kill something that they can’t swallow; and since snakes don’t chew their food, the things they hunt they have to be able to fit in their mouths without it changing shape or size. This said; there are only a few species of snakes that could physically consume a human, none of which are found in the wild in the United States. The only reason a snake would attack a human is if it feels threatened. Probably the most wrong mistaken belief people have about snakes is that they are naturally mean. This couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, snakes are one of the nicer animals on this planet. They make great pets, and are just as entertaining as a pet dog or cat would be. Snakes won’t harm people unless they feel threatened, whether that snake is a wild animal or a loved pet. If people were better educated about snakes, then they wouldn’t be as scared of them.

The notion of “The only good snake is a dead snake” is caused by a fear of snakes, but this fear can be prevented. If snakes weren’t portrayed as evil in movies, photographs, books and in other cultural ways, then less people would be scared of them. Also, because most people can’t tell the difference between a venomous snake and a non-venomous snake, they are fearful of all of them. If they were to research snakes and find the ones in their area that are venomous, then they would be more confident when dealing with snakes, and would be able to know if a snake that they stumble upon is dangerous or not. If people were to look in the Bible for all references of snakes, instead of just a few, then they would see that the bible isn’t saying that snakes are demonic. Overall, if our society did a better job at truthfully educating people about snakes, then people would be able to forget their fears and enjoy this truly amazing creature that God made.

Ball Python
Credit: redtailboa.net
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