Whether you’re Batman or Wonder Woman everyone has something they’re afraid of, and with Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s Halloween Adventure just around the corner, we take a look at the 5 most terrifying animal phobias.
Arachnophobia is the fear of Arachnids, typically spiders (however this can extend to all arachnids, including scorpions and ticks). It’s so prevalent, that up to 50% of women and 18% of men suffer from the phobia (including myself). But why are we so afraid of these cute creepy crawlies/hairy monsters?
There are two schools of thought, one is that arachnophobia is evolutionary, by ensuring that their surroundings were free from spiders, arachnophobes would have had a reduced risk of being bitten in ancestral environments, giving them a slight survival advantage over non-arachnophobes.
The second school of thought is that the fear of spiders is simply cultural, as spiders are included in many cultural foods in South America and Asia. The majority of spiders aren’t venomous at all, and while most people (including myself) understand this fact, they still have this phobia.
If you’re looking to conquer your fear, or just love spiders, you can enjoy Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s spectacular, “BIG BUGS LIVE”, where you can get up close and personal with the Chilean Rose Tarantula!
Ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes, is another popular phobia, so much so that even Indiana Jones was terrified of the slithering reptiles. Again, it’s thought that the fear of snakes is evolutionary advantageous, and anthropologists have even suggested that the need to notice snakes in the wild, may have led early primates to develop better vision and larger brains.
We have 4 snakes at the park (all non-venomous), if you are a student or lucky enough to be a teacher (don’t roll your eyes) you may see some of our slithering serpents in one of our education sessions!
You know the situation, it’s summer time, you’re having a picnic and that one family member starts flapping because a wasp is buzzing around their head. Spheksophobia, or the fear of wasps, is an extremely common phobia, and it’s easy to see why people are so scared of wasps.
If you’ve ever been stung by a wasp (which we probably all have) you know how much it hurts, not to mention the fact they can do it multiple times (unlike their close cousins, the bees, as their sting is fatal to them).
While wasp stings are never fatal, their maybe one member of the Vespidae family you want to keep away from. The Japanese Giant hornet is absolutely terrifying, the size of your thumb, it’s venom attacks the nervous system, eating away at the victim’s flesh. Stings can often require hospitalisation and can even cause renal failure in extreme cases. Luckily, we don’t have any in the UK (thank goodness!).
Watching Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, “The Birds”, is enough to put anyone off them for life. However, ornithophobia does seem like a rather irrational fear to have, birds don’t sting, they aren’t venomous, they don’t eat humans and they only ever nick your chips at Cleethorpes, so why is it such a common fear?
Many fears result in a negative experience with the feared stimulus at a young age, so while a seagull nicking your chips at the seaside can seem quite a funny experience when you’re an adult, it can be quite a terrifying one as a child, leaving a lasting impression on a person. If you’re not terrified of birds, Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a great place to see a lot of Britain’s native bird species. You can read more about the work YWP are doing with native wildlife here.
Last on the list is musophobia, or the fear of mice and rats. In many cases the cause of a musophobia, is the result of a socially induced conditioned response (you’ve seen your parents jump at the sight of a mouse, so you learn this behaviour). It could also be a result of the speed at which a mouse or rat moves, eliciting the startle response.
Whatever the reason, most people aren’t particularly fond of mice or rats, however rats are increasingly being kept as pets in the UK.
There you have it, 5 of the most common animal phobias! Don’t forget, for everyone who loves Halloween, Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s Halloween Adventure starts this October 27th until the 29th!
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