I consider myself to be pretty average when it comes to what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of heights (namely, what happens if you fall from them), having bats fly into my face (they carry some nasty diseases), being startled in the dark and snakes.
Logically, I know there’s nothing to fear from snakes, especially the snakes found in Wisconsin. But the idea of having a snake cross my path creeps me out. My family was camping many years ago, when I was in high school, and we were walking some of the trails. A snake darted across the path and I mean darted, like it was moving pretty fast. Did I scream? Probably. Did I think it was time to end that particular hike? Of course. Did it keep me off the trails? Only for the rest of the day.
I think some of my fears are embedded in the primitive part of my brain – the area where the thoughts of ancient humans still dwell. It’s the spot where we appreciate the positive impact fire has on our lives for things like warmth and cooking, but have a healthy knowledge that it can also cause loss and pain, and from where we know animals with sharp teeth and claws should be approached with caution. At some point, the primitive part of my mind came to the conclusion that snakes are bad.
Or, maybe it’s because snakes are seen as the bad guys in books and movies. When was the last time a snake was the helpful character in a book? Going back to even Biblical times, it was a snake who reportedly tempted Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Plus, the snake surprise dish in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” can induce gagging. And calling someone a snake is never a compliment - I’ve seen plenty of female celebrities referred to as a snake on Twitter.
I think I would be less freaked out by snakes if they had legs, because then I could pretend they are just lizards with ridiculously long tails and I’m fine with lizards. I’ve seen many gifs where the snakes have been given arms and legs and the cold-blooded creatures seem less creepy and more comical. I mean, a snake with illustrated stick arms on its fake hips is just goofy looking.
I wonder if the lack of legs is the reason I think worms are so disgusting as well. They also look pretty gross. I feel the same way about fly larvae. Eels are pretty creepy, too.
But, fish don’t have legs and I’m not disturbed by those creatures. Perhaps the fins are a good alternative to legs in that instance. And fish don’t have slim tongues that wiggle in and out of their mouths. Also, fish don’t have the overall ick factor. If I was really that disturbed by fish, I probably wouldn’t enjoy eating them.
The only time I recall not being freaked out by snakes was in college when I was a bit too inebriated to worry about holding onto a baby python. But non-inebriated me is still too freaked out to hold a snake at events where the reptiles are present.
Unless, you happen to attach some appropriate legs to the snake. Or maybe add a top hat and monocle to the snake’s ensemble, because it’s difficult to be freaked out by something when it’s making you giggle.