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Herpetophobia: The Fear of Reptiles

Updated on August 23, 2017

Do scaly, slimy creatures scare the heck out of you?

Herpetophobia is a common specific phobia which consists of fear or aversion to reptiles, commonly lizards and snakes, and similar vertebrates as amphibians. This condition causes a slight to severe emotional reaction, for example anxiety, panic attacks and most commonly nausea. Upon further research, I've learned that the specific fear of lizards is called Scoliodentosaurophobia.

I have been terrified of reptiles, specifically lizards, ever since I was little. I'm not sure how my phobia came to be but it probably has something to do with the time I saw a little lizard's decapitated tail on the floor, still frantically wriggling despite the fact that it has already detached from its body *shudders*. I have never looked at them the same way since. No, scratch that. I have never wanted to even look at them, period.

I've been known to act really silly whenever a lizard is in the vicinity -- even small house lizards that are usually found in tropical climates such as ours. (Like that one time I didn't want to climb out of my car because there was a lizard sunning itself on the windshield. I had to call my husband from my mobile just so he could open the door for me from outside.)

If you're afraid of lizards and other reptiles too, or just simply interested in the topic, please read on.

Lizard poster image is from Feenixx

Well I'll be!

This page was nominated for Best Potential Giant Lens at the 2009 Giant Squid Awards. Visit the page so you can see the rest of the terrific lenses it's been nominated along with.

It didn't win (awwwshucks), but I'm happy for all the

Giant Squid Awards Winners!

The funny lizard is from Grant Moore 3D.

Are you scared of lizards?

I've never met a lizard that I liked

Meeting a large, scaly lizard face to face.

That particular hair-raising moment happened sometime in the late '90s. I was in my mid-20s and have been working for a while in an advertising agency when I decided to leave my job and pursue further art studies in the US. I decided on a design school in New York and was blessed to have relatives in a nearby borough who welcomed me graciously into their home. I haven't seen them in a while so I didn't know until my arrival that my then-12-year-old cousin was, at that point in time, currently obsessed with reptiles and in fact had a terrarium of "harmless" (but icky nonetheless) garter snakes in their foyer.

I learned to ignore the snakes during the next few months of my stay and had adapted quite easily to the new environment and way of life. My aunt and uncle had work the whole day and my cousin would be in school so most afternoons I would go home to an empty house from my classes in the city.

George?

One random day in November, I was again alone and padding my way up the carpeted stairs to my room when suddenly, right there on the landing was the biggest monitor lizard I had ever seen. I froze on the spot. It was looking back at me with some trepidation, as if waiting for me to make the first move. When I finally came to my senses, I ran down to the basement and remained there until I heard my cousin arrive home a few hours later.

I told him about what I saw. His reaction? "Oh, you found George! I thought he escaped!"

"Er..."

I learned that this "George" was his pet and that he had escaped from one of his terrariums last summer. I didn't want to go upstairs alone for fear of seeing the scaly monster again so I asked my cousin to accompany me upstairs to my room. George was not on the landing anymore. My cousin searched for it, calling out its name all over the house but it never showed itself again -- even after I had left for home when my design courses were done.

My aunt told me a month later over e-mail that they eventually found George in a dark corner of the closet I was using when I was still living with them (!) but that he had already died. Technically, I was the last one to see him alive.

Photo credits: green monitor lizard / comic

An episode of Maury tackling Extreme Phobias: Fear of Reptiles - Conquering the fear of lizards and frogs through hypnosis.

It is said that some phobias, Herpetophobia included, can be cured through hypnosis. Watch this episode of Maury wherein the guests have managed to successfully conquer their phobias through motivational hypnosis.

Overcoming Animal & Insect Phobias - How To Conquer Fear Of Dogs, Snakes, Rodents, Bees, Spiders & More

Specific phobias are among the most responsive of anxiety disorders to behavior therapy, the research-proven treatment adapted for self-help readers in this book. Readers first learn about their phobia, where it comes from, what factors influence it, and how best to prepare for treatment. Then they learn to confront and overcome their animal and insect phobia. These techniques are effective and fast. The book includes information about avoiding relapse and helping someone else who suffers from an animal phobia.

Overcoming Animal and Insect Phobias: How to Conquer Fear of Dogs, Snakes, Rodents, Bees, Spiders, and More
Overcoming Animal and Insect Phobias: How to Conquer Fear of Dogs, Snakes, Rodents, Bees, Spiders, and More

Written by two renowned anxiety experts, this easy-to-read and practical guide teaches readers how to understand, confront, and overcome persistent fear of animals such as dogs, snakes, insects, spiders, and bees.

 

Hey! Maybe an alligator-textured leather designer bag can help cure Herpetophobia. - Well...it's worth a shot, right?

Gorgeously Stylish Italian Designer Brown Alligator Handbag, with Designer Scarf (15" x 10" x 5")*ALSO AVAILABLE in Black Alligator, Brown Snake Skin, Black Crocodile or Black or Beige Ostrich - AS-146
Gorgeously Stylish Italian Designer Brown Alligator Handbag, with Designer Scarf (15" x 10" x 5")*ALSO AVAILABLE in Black Alligator, Brown Snake Skin, Black Crocodile or Black or Beige Ostrich - AS-146

This beautiful Italian Designer handbag has three (3) zippered pockets in the front of the bag, which bears the Vecceli Italy logo in gold. It has an inside zippered pocket on one side and two additional pockets on the other side. It is fully-lined bearing the Vecceli Italy logo in gold. Altogether, it is a wonderful handbag for today's designing woman.

 

A Japanese "Fear Factor" challenge - Conquering the fear of lizards through exposure.

Another way to conquer a phobia is through exposure to the object/creature being feared or by repeatedly approaching them to gain confidence until the fear has been overcome entirely. This "Fear Factor" style episode on a Japanese program shows a number of female contestants who have stuck their heads into holes inside a tank that had a lizard running wildly inside. I don't think it worked -- take a look at the video.

Getting rid of lizards - If you can't overcome your fear, get rid of the source!

Have I overcome my fear of lizards? The answer is NO.

Sadly, I'm now in my 30s but I still unbecomingly shriek like a 5-year-old whenever I see a lizard. The Philippines being a tropical country, there are a number of small house lizards in our home and they are usually found inside dark kitchen cupboards, lounging on tiled bathroom walls, or lying on cold concrete floors. I'm lucky though to have a husband who does not share that phobia so I always rely on him to get rid of the slimy bothersome creatures if I ever chance on them. Don't worry, he doesn't kill them - he traps them in a box and lets them loose in a nearby park.

In case he's not around, I rely on our kitty cat, pictured at left, who has proven to be a very good lizard hunter.

We can't completely get rid of the lizards in our home (believe me, I've asked the pest control guys) because they are great for catching and killing mosquitoes and other household pests after all so they're not entirely bad to have around. But given my phobia, I do my best to keep the number to a minimum using the following techniques.

1.Keep the house clean. The less places there are for them to hide inside or under, the less they'll be around.

2. Get rid of leftovers, bits of food and garbage right away. The less they'll have something to eat, the less appealing your home will be for them.

3. Try to keep the place cool. Lizards love warm surfaces so if the temperature of the place is not to their liking, chances are they'll find somewhere else to dwell.

4. Don't position the furniture too close to the wall. This way, they will have less places to hide in and I've learned that they hate being exposed to humans as well.

5. Trim the plants near your doors and windows. Lizards like having plants to hide in so if there aren't any, they'll look elsewhere.

There are other ways of getting rid of lizards. Check out the articles below for more tips.

Want to get rid of lizards quickly? Get a cat! - Cats are the best lizard hunters.

Like I mentioned above, our kitty -- like any other cat -- is a fabulous lizard hunter. I always feel secure whenever he's around. Check out the video of another lizard-hunting cat below to see what I mean.

Another way of conquering the fear of reptiles is to picture them doing something funny. I sure hope this works!

Another way of conquering the fear of reptiles is to picture them doing something funny. I sure hope this works!
Another way of conquering the fear of reptiles is to picture them doing something funny. I sure hope this works!

Some more self-help books on mastering phobias and anxiety - Applicable to all kinds of fears and phobias.

The creatures in Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up by paper engineers Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart look incredibly real but since they are made of non-scaly, non-slimy paper, I am able to learn all I can about reptiles without having to feel queasy.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs : The Definitive Pop-Up
Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs : The Definitive Pop-Up

Each spread features a spectacular paper sculpture of a particular species (e.g., Ankylosaurus or Triceratops) along with a brief paragraph of text. Smaller foldout sections, which open like miniature books and also incorporate pop-ups, cover additional topics (Dinosaur Detectives and Mystery Extinction) and introduce other dinosaurs and their characteristics. Rendered in warm earth tones and speckled with splashes of color, the three-dimensional creatures move with a life of their own as they gracefully extend their bodies into a full stretch or lurch toward readers with jaws open wide.

 

Your thoughts on this lens are most welcome too.

Do you have a phobia? What are you afraid of? - Share your thoughts and feelings here.

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    • SadSquid profile image

      SadSquid 6 years ago

      If it's any help, lizards are not slimy, frogs are slimy their skins secrete mucus, but lizards are dry. And the tails grow back! But I understand about phobias, they defy explanations. Very nice lens.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Lol...I am so glad that lizards are not a problem that we have here. Spiders and ants yes - lizards no :)

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      A very enjoyable lens. I'm waiting for ten o'clock to come so I can catch a flight. And your lens helped pass the time with some snickers and interesting tidbits.

      My cats keep the house free from pests -- bugs, spiders, and lizards if we ever had them enter.

    • profile image

      Thelma_Horton 7 years ago

      This is such a fun lens and makes me laugh as I read over the comments. I'm not afraid of lizards, at least not the small ones. I'm often called by my daughter, (who is afraid of everything outside) to remove the lizards and wasps that manage to get inside the house. Funny thing is we can never figure out how they get in the house.

      The comments made from "70 Things Before I'm Gone" was to rid the lizard phobia and learn to sew. Maybe, we can learn to sew a few lizard costumes and take down 2 things.

    • profile image

      WingedWolfPsion 8 years ago

      Politicians have used peoples' fear of reptiles to try to take away the rights of pet owners and damage a thriving industry. Please help us prevent them from succeeding, and stop the python and boa ban! Go to http://www.Kill-RuleChange.com and follow the instructions! Some people are afraid of cats, but you don't see laws to ban cats being proposed, in spite of the fact that feral cats are the #2 most destructive introduced species in the country! (And pythons aren't #1).

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      You are one of Fresh Squid December 2009 graduates! Come by and answer few questions to show the way to those who will follow! Wish you many, many more great lenses!

    • Natalie W Schorr profile image

      Natalie W Schorr 8 years ago

      Great work - I lensrolled it to my Collective Nouns for Reptiles and Amphibians lens. Well done!!!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 8 years ago

      I don't have a fear of lizards but I wouldn't want one in my house! This is really a great lens - you have a wonderful writing style and the pictures are great!

    • dancerene profile image

      dancerene 8 years ago

      I think people living in the Western countries don't really see lizards a lot. I have a couple of them, very fat ones, sharing my room. Although I don't really like them, as long as they don't disturb me, I have no problem.

      I don't like cockroaches and rats too. Yikes!

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I don't think I have a lizard phobia but living in the UK, I've never been really tested. We just don't see lizards running around wild. I'm terrified of climbing ladders. I don't mind heights and can stand on the edge of a cliff with no problem but I hate climbing ladders. Great lens, blessed by an Angel.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I'm not particularly fond of small critters. Although if nee be...I can grab the broom and dustpan and give them a toss outside! LOL! Congratulations on your GIant Squid Awards Nomination! :)

    • poptastic profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Arre 8 years ago from Quezon City

      Thank you for visiting and leaving great feedback here, everyone! it's funny how we're all scared of various little creatures when in turn, they're probably terrified of us big humans too!

    • poptastic profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Arre 8 years ago from Quezon City

      @HappySeasons LM: I don't think any self-help book will ever work on me which is why I listed the many things I've done to try to prevent the lizards from infiltrating our home. My cat has actually been very helpful with this! (:

    • profile image

      HappySeasons LM 8 years ago

      So, none of the self-help books listed on this lens helped you overcome the fear of reptiles?

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 8 years ago from UK

      I had a hornet in my house and that had me pretty terrified as I was alone and had to deal with it. Luckily we don't get lizards here so I've never been faced with one in my house. I think you were brave to find all these pictures and other links related to something you fear.

      Congratulations on your Giant Squid Award nomination! It's a deserving choice.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 8 years ago

      Left my thoughts above, here I just want to say Congratulations on the nomination for the 2009 Giant Squid Awards! ~claudia

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 8 years ago

      I hate spiders... they frigthen me so much that I could run for kilometers just to not be at the same place than them! And also wasps! Eeek! What's that for horrible beasts!

      Great lens!

      Dom.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 8 years ago

      Cockroaches. Can't stand the site of them. I have never faced a snake or crocodile but we get white tail spiders in the house and they are very dangerous. 5* and fave Nice lens and well done

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I enjoyed your lens and am lensrolling it to mine about "Being Afraid." The only time I'm really afraid of any reptile is when I hear that tell-tale rattling coming from nearby, and I can't see what's rattling and don't know exactly where it is.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh that's a great funny story! Sorry for George, though. I'm not afraid of reptiles, I think they are quite fascinating. What I don't like, at least in the house, are more in the insect department - not too keen on spiders and I especially hate those centipede things that run around very fast with all those hairy legs!

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 8 years ago

      Right now I'm afraid of not having enough money to pay my bills and getting evicted or having my car taken away. I don't really think there's an animal that I'm really afraid of, although I wouldn't really want to see a rattlesnake in my backyard.

      My daughter was a kaktophobe for a while (fear of cacti). I probably should make a lens on why. :-)

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 8 years ago

      Wonderful lens on your fear of lizards. Blessed!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 8 years ago from USA

      What a pleasure to read this wonderful lens! Very nice work!

      To answer your question, I really don't care for spiders.

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 8 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Really well put together lens - Blessed by a Squid Angel :-)

    • poptastic profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Arre 8 years ago from Quezon City

      @Sylvestermouse: LOL you're absolutely right, Cynthia! I never thought of it that way. Thanks for thinking that our kitty cat is beautiful. Meow (:

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      Love the story! Wouldn't you know, the very one who doesn't want to see George, is visited by him. He probably knew you would not try to catch him and put him in a cage:)

      By the way, kitty cat is beautiful!

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