Misconceptions About Snakes by Spencer Guffey
Fear has been taught to everyone when they were young children. ‘Don't touch that it's dangerous!’ ‘Don't go near that it will bite you!’
Most of this fear is towards animals, reptiles in specific. Snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodilians are classified as reptiles. Fear surrounding these animals can be a taught behavior. These animals are branded as dangerous, malicious, and evil even before a person meets these types of animals.
Most fears are taught at a very young age by people who are around the child. “I started fearing snakes when I was in fifth grade” Shelby Dorsett said. People who have fears in certain animals tend to project these fears onto the people around them.
Inexperience with certain exotic animals can cause a fear of them as well. “[People] don't understand how snakes act and so they’re scared of the unknown.” Blaine Yeager said. People tend to fear what is unknown to them, and having no expierence with snakes can be a big cause of fear.
Behind spiders, snakes are one of the most feared animals. A reasonable fear would be of a snake like the black mamba, which according to National Geographic, is a snake with a deadly venom that can kill within 20 minutes. The black mamba can move at 12.5 miles per hour, which makes it one of the fastest snakes in the world. But many people don't even realize that type of snake exists. Most snakes that are feared are pythons, boas, and colubrids.
People fear snakes because of experiences or maybe stories that have been told to them. “What I don't like about snakes is that they can bite and some are venomous.” Mrs. Andrea Woodson said. Many people fear the potential of a snake biting them, but anything with a mouth can bite, and hurt. A friendly family dog can feel cornered and suddenly bite, doing a lot more damage than a snake bite. A human can even bite if provoked. Normally a snakes bite is clean and quick, not causing as much harm as other animals could if they are to bite. A dog's bite can shred a human's arm to pieces, but most snake bites can just cause simple bleeding.
Snakes are some of the easiest type of animal to read, despite them not having arms or legs to help show emotion with stance. Snakes will let people know when they are not happy or want to be left alone. Normal social characteristics of a snake that is okay to be handled is usually relaxed, moving slow and in calm movements. A snake that is jerking it's head, moving in jagged or fast ways, or deadly still, are snakes that want to be left alone.
Owning a snake, you are guaranteed to be bit, whether on purpose or on accident. A snake only bits out of fear or hunger. Interacting with a snake that is showing obvious signs of fear is not advised, as the chances of getting bit is higher. Getting bit by a snake that is obviously in fear is no ones fault but the handlers. Reading a snake to know when they want to be left alone is very important when handling one. A snake could also bite on accident. Most owners of snakes hold the rodents in front of the snake with long tongs. If a snake tries to strike at the rodent and misses they may hit your hand by accident, which is no ones fault if it happens.
Snakes also will curve their head in an ‘S’ position when they are about to strike or if they are ready to at any moment. This is a huge red flag to back up and leave the snake alone. Continuing to handle a snake who is in the ‘S’ position is risky and not advised. Getting bit even after noticing the ‘S’ position and continuing to handle is the handlers fault.
Snakes do not just bite because they can. There is motive behind each bite like fear or hunger unless it's on accident. Failing to read a snakes intentions properly can result in a bite or aggressive attitude towards a person. Most animals, no matter how domesticated have survival instincts. These survival instincts can cause aggressive behavior or actions. An animal that feels threatened by a being that is bigger than themselves may become aggressive due to the fear of being hurt or killed. Knowing when to leave an animal alone is very important when handling exotic animals.