An emerald tree boa wrapped around a branchOphidophobia is the fear of snakes.

What Is Ophidophobia?

Ophidophobia is one of the most common phobias, with about a third of people experiencing the phobia to some degree. Some people with a snake phobia also have a more generalized phobia of reptiles known as herpetophobia. At its extreme ends, ophidophobia can be so strong that it interferes with people’s ability to go anywhere that snakes might be, such as pet stores, the woods, or to homes with pet snakes.

What Causes Ophidophobia?

Many evolutionary psychologists have speculated that a fear of snakes has a genetic origin, as the fear of those snakes that may be poisonous or dangerous has benefited people across time. The phobia might also be commonly learned early in life when parents teach children to avoid approaching or handling snakes, and evidence shows that people learn a phobia of snakes much more easily than they learn some other phobias. Early traumatic experiences with snakes, such as being bitten by a poisonous snake, could also create the phobia.

How Is Ophidophobia Treated?

Unlike some other phobias, such as needle phobia, the fear of flying, or a fear of social situations, ophidophobia does not frequently interfere with a person’s life, since most people do not need to be regularly exposed to snakes to work, remain healthy, or maintain relationships. Thus most people don’t seek treatment. However, when a phobia of snakes is so extreme that a person limits their activities or when a phobia interferes with a relationship—such as in a relationship when one member has a pet snake—people may seek treatment. Exposure therapy, during which a person is gradually exposed to snakes through pictures, videos, and then actual contact, can be highly effective. Some people also benefit from anti-anxiety medication when they have to be around snakes.


  1. Fritscher, L. (n.d.). Ophidiophobia. About.com Phobias. Retrieved from http://phobias.about.com/od/phobiaslist/a/ophidiophobia.htm


Last Updated: 01-17-2018

  • Leave a Comment
  • billy bob joe

    billy bob joe

    October 19th, 2017 at 10:07 AM

    I think that people should not be afraid of snakes

  • billy bob Joe

    billy bob Joe

    October 19th, 2017 at 10:08 AM

    snakes are friendly

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