Posted by Bob the Hamster on August 22nd, 2005

Current mood: Slithery

I used to be mortally afraid of snakes. When I was 7 years old, I lived in an area where rattlesnakes were common, and I would lay awake at night in fear thinking about them. I had recurring nightmares about snakes coming out of the ground. Just looking at them gave me shivers– even on TV, when the actual physical snake was nowhere near me.

I few years ago, I took the first step on my road to recovery from snake-o-phobia, by watching numerous episodes of Crocodile Hunter. Steve Erwin’s casual attitude toward snakes was fascinating, and although at first I had to sit very far away from the TV, I gradually got over my fear of looking at snakes, and began to recognize them as beautiful.

The first time I ever held a snake was a few months ago, on State Street in Santa Barbara where people from the Santa Barbara Snake Rescue organization were showing snakes. I was a little nervous, but the snakes were just so fascinating, I couldn’t help but enjoy them.

This weekend I went to the same place, and they were there again. I spend even longer playing with the snakes than I did last time. Holding a garter snake and an albino corn snake at the same time, I felt the last tiny shred of fear melt away, and I decided that I love snakes. Snakes are cuddly. When you hold them, they can’t even move without hugging you.

If you are afraid of snakes, and run the other way at the sight of them, you don’t know what you are missing. If you live in the area, go spend a Sunday afternoon in Santa Barbara, and see and feel for yourself. If you live elsewhere, ask a reptile-savvy friend to help you, or if you don’t know anyone, go to a pet store and pretend to shop.

I wonder why I was afraid of snakes in the first place? Sure there was the poison thing, But even when I knew for certain that a specific snake was harmless, I was still afraid of it, against all rationality. Why? I am guessing that maybe a deeper reason for fearing all snakes was because they seemed magical. Lacking limbs, the just seem to propel themselves along by sheer force of will, which is unnerving. Only when you actually hold a snake, and feel its muscles push gently against your skin, do you start to understand how it moves, and once you understand it, it ceases to be a part of the unknown, and therefore ceases to be frightening.

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