Fear Of Reptiles(Herpetophobia): Causes, Symptoms, Overcoming

Fear of reptiles – Herpetophobia is the irrational, unjustified, and persistent fear of reptiles. It is a widespread phobia of animals. The word Herpetophobia has its origin in “Herp,” which means snake or serpent, and in “Phobos,” which means the Greek God of Fear. The fear of reptiles is often combined with ophidiophobia, which is the fear of snakes, but both are quite different and should not be confused.

Most people who have herpetophobia are not only afraid of the dangers posed by reptiles like snakes (mainly due to their venom) but are even afraid of harmless wall lizards (which generally pose no danger). Hephophobia also means that the phobic is not only fearful of living reptiles; You may even be afraid of the thought of snakes, or you may avoid seeing them in the form of photos, in movies, in zoos, etc.

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Causes of herpetophobia

  • Some animals instill fear in humans for no particular reason.
  • Herpetophobia is one of those fears.
  • Often, those who suffer have no reason to fear reptiles.
  • Maybe fear is just evolutionary.
  • Early humans and cave dwellers often encountered snakes and other poisonous, often gigantic reptiles.
  • The bite of these animals was almost always fatal.
  • As a result, early humans steered clear of these creepy crawlers, avoiding the trees, bushes, stones, and rocks where these creatures customarily inhabited.

Another major cause of extreme fear of reptiles could be a negative experience in the past about such creatures. A child, or even an adult, may have had an encounter with a serpent:

  • A lizard may have fallen on him at meals. A snake may have crawled on his feet during a nature walk.
  • The slimy and creepy feeling is enough to scare people who have a nervous predisposition.
  • In other more severe cases, the fear may have arisen due to the death or injury of a loved one from being bitten by a poisonous reptile.
  • Even some cases of non-fatal reptile bites (experienced by phobics directly or indirectly) could cause lifelong fear of reptiles.

Symptoms of fear of reptiles


Whatever the cause of herpetophobia, it is often a growing fear. At first, phobics might avoid gardens, zoos, forests, or pet stores that sell reptiles. You may refuse to leave the house entirely due to fear of encountering snakes. Anxiety can dominate the individual, often combining with other phobias ultimately. The symptoms of herpetophobia are varied and can be physical or emotional. They include:

  • Shaking, shaking, and profuse sweating.
  • Crying or screaming not just at sight, but simply thinking about the reptiles.
  • Having a dry mouth, a fast heart rate, breathing rapidly, feeling nauseous, dizzy, or wanting to flee or escape.
  • The sight of a live reptile (even pictures in books or on the television screen) can trigger a total panic attack. Avoidance behavior is another symptom of herpetophobia.
  • The individual may refuse to go hiking, camping, etc. You may even fear visiting a pet store or zoo or refuse to see a reptile movie.
  • As mentioned above, herpetophobia can progress slowly and lead to various other symptoms, including feeling a detachment from reality or feeling like one is going crazy.
  • A simple suggestion of a trip to the zoo, etc., can cause crying, panic attacks, tremors, etc.
  • Therefore, these people tend to be socially withdrawn and depressed.

Overcome the fear of reptiles

  • Many therapies and treatment modalities can help phobics overcome herpetophobia.
  • Hypnosis is one of those therapies.
  • It works by assessing the root cause of the phobia and also helps eliminate the individual’s conditioned response to their fear object.
  • Hypnosis techniques are also used to make the person feel more relaxed and open to suggestions.
  • The therapist then uses “commands” to bring about the desired change in the individual.
  • NLP or neurolinguistic programming is another technique that can help you overcome this fear. The patient is first asked to revisit the episode that led to the phobia.
  • You are then asked to “float up” and rewatch the episode as if it were a movie.
  • The patient can get closer to his “younger self in the movie,” release the dissociation and comfort the younger self. After a couple of sessions of this therapy, the patient may be asked to talk about fear to ensure positive changes are made.

Other mentionable therapies to help overcome the fear of reptiles are talk therapy, systematic desensitization, and group therapy.

  • All of these have proven to be very effective in overcoming herpetophobia forever.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.