Snakes or Spiders?

Spiders don’t bother me; for decades I’ve been the designated spider slayer in my home. Naturally the designation doesn’t thrill me – those substantial arachnid intruders; the ones you can almost hear as they tip tap across the floor give me pause for a second – then it’s down to business, people are counting on me. To the dismay of the family, if at all possible I capture and release them outside. Assurances they aren’t hit men, have no vendetta, and are unlikely to make their way back inside do little to soothe the phobic nerves of my family.

Spiders are a fact of life, most are harmless, or at least not life threatening. Even the seven black widow spiders I’ve spotted, captured, or killed over the last year in my basement, don’t bother me as long as they stay downstairs.

Snakes are a completely different story; I’m incapable of applying the same rational thoughts when a snake is involved. Living in the heart of a major city in British Columbia, a snake should be the last thing to worry about. Or so I thought – “Daddy, please catch a snake for us” was the plea from our young children. We were on Vancouver Island, garter snakes were everywhere, and before I could scream “are you out of your mind”, we’re on the ferry home with a snake in a pail. The kids have already named it Mrs. Slithers.

Telling myself “hysteria” was a poor example for the kids, I made myself scarce as my husband set Mrs. Slithers up in an old aquarium. I even took the high ground when he assured me it couldn’t get out, and I was being silly. I didn’t “freak out” in front of the kids, I didn’t tell him he could deal with house spiders from now on, I even attempted interest. The next day Mrs. Slithers had 11 babies.

Kids love playing with baby snakes – kids love having all their friends over to play with baby snakes. Within a few days we were down to 7 or 8 babies. Attempts to convince myself the missing snakes were outside lasted about as long as a snowball in July. It was time for the Slithers family to move out – we made a day out of delivering them to the shore of Beaver Lake in Stanley Park.

What is it about phobias that make us lose our minds? Why is it that we trivialize the phobia of others as “silly”? Some studies suggest we are programmed to fear spiders and snakes as they could cause harm, while others contend these phobias are a learned behaviour – passed on by phobic parents. I grew up in a place where we were taught from a early age to watch out for rattlesnakes and black widow spiders yet snakes are the only thing that makes my skin crawl. When I think about it – I can’t come up with a single person I know who fears both snakes and spiders. Go figure.

30 thoughts on “Snakes or Spiders?

  1. Ha..Ha! When hubby and I first started online dating, I was preparing to move into the cute little house next door to me when I saw 7 black widows on the porch while I was sweeping. I completely freaked and started beating them to death with a broom…now afraid to move in to the house. With adrenaline still pumping, I emailed Rick, describing my terrible ordeal.

    He lovingly replied that he has a horrible fear of Sssnakes and goes berserk when he sees them. Suddenly anything is a weapon, the lawn mower…the weed wacker…a shovel. For some reason, him telling me that became one of those wonderful moments when you knew that you found the right guy.

  2. I used to fear snakes until a couple of tours in south America where I was taught the proper way to handle them. All of my other phobias are learned from unpleasant experiences, at least that’s what my therapist tells me 🙂

    • I understand phobias stemming from unpleasant experiences:)

      I’m not even afraid of snakes – never had a bad experience – I simply loathe them!. It isn’t even rational! It would make sense to be afraid of a deadly viper or cobra – those things could do some serious harm, much like swimming in shark infested waters or pissing off a grizzly bear. But no – I quiver in my boots at the sight of a harmless little garter snake.Not fear – bat shit crazy 🙂

  3. Being an Australian i have to giggle when hearing anyone talk about snakes. Oddly enough, they don’t however bother me. Spiders on the other hand bother me greatly… but i refuse to kill them.

  4. As a kid growing up in Nova Scotia, I collected many garter, grass and “finger twirler” snakes. I remember capturing one particularly large garter snake that I convinced my Mom to bring inside, in a bucket with a sort-of lid, so that the other neighbourhood kids wouldn’t steal it. Next morning, as Mom was warming the oven to make breakfast, all hell broke loose…it seems the snake had crawled into the oven overnight and was wriggling on the heating coils. Dad was wakened by Mom’s screams, and leaped out of bed just in time to grab the snake with tongs and heave it into the backyard. I never did find it again 😦

  5. That spider was huge! Bugs and the like do not belong in houses, nor the work place enviorment!!! 🙂 That is my thinking. I do like snakes, they are wonderful creatures!!

  6. Notes, many people have been trained to fear snakes from biblical teachings. I do not understand a fear of spiders. I also have been guilty of trivializing fears others have. But for some unknown reason a bell rang and now i realize those fears are as real to them as my fear of ????? Damn, i cannot think of any thing i fear, maybe later.

    • You’ve officially cracked me up – I haven’t a biblical bone in my body. When I was 5 my mother was taken aside and asked by the church sunday school teacher not to bring me back to sunday school. Seems I asked too many questions and upset the other children. I was 5! Holy shit.

      Don’t know where the snake phobia came from – but you’re right – it’s just as valid as my families fear of spiders – something I wouldn’t blink an eye at. Go figure 🙂

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