The human fear of snakes is learned, or culturally conditioned.
Humans are not born with a fear of snakes.
With our large brains and forward facing eyes, we are able to sense and respond to snakes quickly. However, fear is learned from experience such as parents modeling fear behaviors to their children (see link below).
Good thing we are not blinded by fear. Otherwise, we could not appreciate the beauty of this Rough Green Snake. Harmless, still and beautiful, the color of palmetto. The snake blends into a Saw Palmetto in the Florida Dry Prairie at sunrise. It warms up for a day of hunting insects on prairie shrubs recently animated by anthropogenic fire.
We have lived with snakes for a very long time.
As a child, I roamed the woods of Florida with my family. We hunted and fished in places rich with reptiles. Snakes were common. We learned the difference between a poisonous moccasin and a harmless watersnake quickly. A hognose snake playing possum could not trick us. A pine snake wasn’t a rattlesnake. Even if it was, we learned to admire and avoid these snakes.
We were taught no good would come from molesting a snake. We knew the rat snakes in the barn kept the rodents from eating stored corn. We were thrilled as kids to glimpse the rare Indigo Snake, in awe of it’s massive length and inky blue skin. We knew the Indigo’s reputation for killing and eating rattlesnakes. As long as the Indigo was present, we knew rattlesnake would not be near as we played outdoors. We admired the pretty corn snake, the friendly garter snake and it’s cousin, the elegant ribbon snake. The rough green snake would surprise us, stealthy and still.
Snakes were common in old Florida. Now, many are increasingly rare. Like much of Florida’s wildlife, snakes survive habitat destruction, poisons sprayed on lawns and crops, and expanding networks of roads.
Snakes suffer from indiscriminate killing. Often sentenced to execution because they may be poisonous. Worse, they are often killed, because they are snakes.
Fear blinds us. Ignorance drives us to poor decisions which create harm.
We are taught fear. Then we live a lifetime of consequences.
Filmed at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.