(Redirected from Fear of snakes)

Ophidiophobia is a particular type of specific phobia, the abnormal fear of snakes. It is sometimes called by a more general term, herpetophobia, fear of reptiles. The word comes from the Greek words "ophis" (ὄφις), snake, and "phobia" (φοβία) meaning fear.[1]

About a third of adult humans are ophidiophobic, making this the most common reported phobia.[2]

A 2001 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden suggested that mammals may have an innate negative reaction to snakes (and spiders), which was vital for their survival as it allowed such dangerous threats to be identified immediately.[3] A 2009 report of a 40-year research program demonstrated strong fear conditioning to snakes in humans and fast nonconscious processing of snake images; these are mediated by a fear network in the human brain involving the amygdala.[4] A 2013 study provided neurobiological evidence in primates (macaques) of natural selection for detecting snakes rapidly.[5]

In fictionEdit

In non-medical press and literature, the movie-character Indiana Jones has been used as an example of someone with ophidiophobia, or just fear of snakes.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ophidiophobia (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  2. ^ Ceríaco, Luis MP (2012). "Human attitudes towards herpetofauna: The influence of folklore and negative values on the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Portugal". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 8 (1): 8. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-8-8. PMC 3292471. PMID 22316318.
  3. ^ Roach, John (4 October 2001). "Fear of Snakes, Spiders Rooted in Evolution, Study Finds". National Geographic News. National Geographic Society.
  4. ^ Öhman, Arne (2009). "Of snakes and faces: An evolutionary perspective on the psychology of fear". Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Wiley. 50 (6): 543–552. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2009.00784.x. ISSN 0036-5564.
  5. ^ Van Le, Q.; Isbell, L. A.; Matsumoto, J.; Nguyen, M.; Hori, E.; Maior, R. S.; Tomaz, C.; Tran, A. H.; Ono, T.; Nishijo, H. (28 October 2013). "Pulvinar neurons reveal neurobiological evidence of past selection for rapid detection of snakes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110 (47): 19000–19005. doi:10.1073/pnas.1312648110. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 3839741. PMID 24167268.
  6. ^ Gresh, Lois H.; Weinberg, Robert (21 April 2008). "Why Did It Have To Be Snakes: From Science to the Supernatural, The Many Mysteries of Indiana Jones". John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved 22 March 2018 – via Google Books.