The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Snakes are very interesting creatures. Some people find snakes to be absolutely frightening, but others love snakes and keep them as pets.
No matter what side of the fence you’re on, it’s easy to see why some people would be intimidated by snakes. You might have even heard that snakes have the ability to smell the fear in humans.
Is this actually true or is it simply something that people say? Read on to learn more about snakes and whether they can tell when people are afraid of them.
This should help you to have a much deeper understanding of a snake’s sense of smell and how it operates. You won’t have to wonder any longer once you dig into the details.
Snakes Being Able to Smell Fear Might Be a Myth
When it comes to giving a definitive answer to the question of whether snakes can smell fear, it’s tough to do so. Most experts say that snakes being able to smell fear is a myth, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
Snakes do indeed have a good sense of smell. In many ways, snakes are able to smell as humans do. They have nostrils, and they’re capable of using their sense of smell to understand their environment better.
Interestingly, snakes can use their tongues to collect odor molecules. If a snake is able to use its tongue to come into contact with humans, then it’s not out of the question that the snake might be able to sense fear.
It’s simply not possible to definitively say that snakes can smell fear. It is known that dogs can smell fear, but it isn’t truly known that snakes can do the same.
What is known is that snakes are able to detect smells that humans cannot. If a human is particularly afraid of snakes, then it’s certainly plausible that a snake will be able to detect that using its sense of smell.
A pet snake won’t be able to smell human fear through the glass of its tank, though. A wild snake might be able to, but there isn’t a scientific consensus that can verify whether this is truly possible.
Snakes Might Be Able to Detect Human Fear for Other Reasons
There might be other reasons why a snake will pick up on human fear. Snakes generally won’t attack humans unless they’re provoked, but scared humans act erratically sometimes.
When someone is afraid, they might make fast movements or they might jerk in one direction or another. Such movements could be seen as threatening by the snake, and this will cause the snake to choose to attack.
Of course, some snakes might also choose to simply slither away. How the snake will react might be hard to predict.
It might sound funny, but your fear could wind up causing the snake to be afraid. Then this chain of events could lead to the snake attacking you.
So it’s good to know that acting fearful around a snake could cause the snake to become afraid. Your best bet when coming across a wild snake will be to remain calm.
Remember that most snakes are completely harmless. While there are dangerous snakes that can harm you by biting you, even those snakes will typically leave you alone unless you threaten them.
Continue facing the snake and slowly back away. Sudden movements might scare the snake, and this is what could cause the snake to choose to bite you.
It isn’t necessarily that the snake is sensing your fear and choosing to strike. The snake is more than likely afraid itself and is making a snap decision about what it should do.
Fear and Making Prey-Like Movements
Sometimes fear might cause a human to react strangely. A person who comes across a very intimidating snake might wind up being so frightened that their movements will be very jerky.
Certain snakes might wind up viewing humans as prey if they react this way. This will trigger the snake and make it choose to attack.
Of course, this is only going to be the case if the snake is large enough that it will have a chance against you. You aren’t going to suddenly have a garden snake boldly attacking a scared human in an attempt to get a meal.
You’re more likely to have to worry about being perceived as prey if you’re dealing with a dangerous snake. Large and dangerous snakes should be approached with greater caution because of the real threat that they pose.
Once again, this doesn’t mean that you need to be extremely fearful of these snakes. It’s best to try to stay away from snakes because they generally leave people alone unless threatened.
That doesn’t mean that most people will want a dangerous snake living near their homes. If you have a dangerous snake on your property, then you might wish to call professionals to help.
Depending on the laws in your area, the local pest control company will either relocate the snake or do something else with it. Laws differ quite a bit when it comes to what you can do even when you’re in different parts of the same country.
Pet Snakes Don’t Treat All People the Same
You might own a snake that is very easy to handle. Whenever you go and interact with the snake, you might have an easy time doing what you need to do.
Interestingly, the snake might not give other people such an easy time. Snakes choose who they like, and your snake might have simply chosen that it likes you.
If someone is looking after your snake while you’re away on a short trip, then there’s a chance that they will have a much harder time. It isn’t necessarily that the snake is smelling their fear either.
Snakes might react differently to some people than they do to others. This is simply normal behavior for snakes.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t snakes that are very docile. There certainly are types of snakes that are much easier for humans to handle on average.
Will a Pet Snake Attack If You’re Afraid?
If you’re worried about having your pet snake attack you because you’re afraid, then you’ll just have to be confident. The best thing to do to have an easy time with a pet snake is to approach things confidently and intelligently.
You’ve learned that snakes respond negatively to fast and jerky movements. If you’re able to remain calm, then you should be able to handle the snake smoothly.
That being said, if you’re so afraid that you’re shaking, then it’s going to be pretty hard to handle the snake the right way. It’s possible that the snake might become afraid because of how nervous you are.
However, it’s likely that the snake will try to hide rather than try to attack you. Regardless, you’ll want to overcome your fear of snakes if you’re going to keep a snake as a pet.
How Can You Overcome a Fear of Snakes?
Overcoming a fear of snakes might be difficult depending on how afraid you are. Even so, the best way to become more comfortable around snakes is to be exposed to them.
Spending time near snakes and trying to get used to handling them will make a difference. You might be able to get some help by spending time with someone who is an experienced snake handler.
They can supervise your interactions with the snakes, and this might help you to feel more comfortable. If you have a family member or a friend who has experience when it comes to dealing with snakes, then this could be your best bet.
Eventually, you’ll be able to feel far more comfortable when you’re around snakes. After you’ve been caring for a pet snake for quite some time, it’ll become like second nature to handle it.
If you simply don’t want to be near snakes, then you don’t have to purchase a pet snake. For some people, it might not be ideal to purchase exotic pets.
Try Not to Be Too Nervous
Trying not to be too nervous about snakes will be for the best. Pet snakes aren’t that hard to handle once you learn what you need to do.
Look into the most docile and easy to take care of pet snake options. You should be able to get some advice from store clerks at the pet store that will help to point you in the right direction.
Learning to feel comfortable around snakes can take some time. However, it can be intriguing to have a pet snake if you’re able to get used to things.
Many people find snakes to be among the most fascinating types of pets. You might wind up really enjoying your experience as a snake owner.
You shouldn’t be worried about whether snakes can smell your fear. Just do your best to stay calm when handling snakes, and try to avoid jerky movements.
When you encounter snakes in the wild, know that they are just as afraid of you as you are of them. In most instances, snakes will slither away or ignore you unless you do something threatening.
Hopefully, this information helps you to feel more at ease. Even if it isn’t possible to completely know whether snakes can smell fear, you know that they can sense changes in humans and that they will react negatively to jerky motions.
If you can do your best to maintain your composure, then you likely have nothing to fear from snakes. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t respect the danger that certain snakes pose, though.