Queen's University — Since 1873
20th September 2011

Let them be

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From the Book of Genesis, where a serpent tempts Eve, to big-screen Hollywood productions like Snakes on a Plane; the fear of snakes is engrained into the minds of many. Ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes, has been passed on for centuries.

A study conducted by the University of Miami concluded that this fear is conditioned and that many of those who are afraid of snakes have never had negative first-hand experiences.

Misunderstanding and the unwillingness to learn perpetuates the fear of these majestic animals. There are no venomous species of snakes naturally living in Kingston which means that only pets are potentially venomous.

According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the only venomous snake in the province is the Eastern Mississauga Rattle Snake. It’s limited to areas in southern Ontario that surround rivers. There are a wide range of people who fear snakes. While some can’t be around them, others will get close but have a persistent dislike.

Some of my friends have a slight phobia of snakes, but it’s fascinating to see how they’ve progressively adapted to my snakes.

It’s surprising that so many people think snakes are in fact slimy. This is far from true.

After touching a snake for the first time, many people comment on how snakes aren’t slimy at all. Their skin feels smooth and slick.

Another stereotype that snakes seem to inherit is their sneaky and aggressive nature, lunging after unexpecting people.

As an owner of snakes who loves to catch them as well, I know that snakes are equally afraid of us.

Snakes have the disadvantage of being small; they see us as predators. Snakes know they cannot eat us.

When they strike it’s a defense mechanism, telling a predator to stay back.

Having had snakes for the past 12 years, I have been bitten on several occasions without consequence.

If snakes were aggressive animals inclined to attack humans, then the rattlesnake I stood two feet away from in Texas surely would have tried to kill me.

You don’t have to like these critters but I’m asking for your understanding to let them live their lives. The stigma can be powerful, but keep an open mind.

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