I used to have a dreadful Snake Phobia but not anymore.

When my kids were small I actually abandoned them in a pet shop when I walked in and saw a little tiny snake in a tank on the opposite side of the room (not quite as bad as it sounds as their dad was with them at the time). The very thought of a snake and I would start crying and shaking and checking my bed that night to make sure that there were no snakes there. For those of you who don't know I live in Ireland and we do not have snakes as part of our Native Wildlife, and no it is not true that Saint Patrick (our Patron Saint) got rid of them as many people would like to believe.

In 2009 I went to live in Australia for 18 months. While I was there I had the opportunity to face my fears. I thought to myself OK I'm in Australia where they have 10 of the top 20 most dangerous snakes on the planet so it is time to face my fear. As part of the Zookeeping course that I was doing at the time we naturally did animal handling which included reptiles and of course snakes are reptiles. My Tutor and now that I think about it probably everyone else knew that I had a terrible fear and were very considerate of my feelings. When it came to the other animals I was usually the first to volunteer for everything even when it came to handling reptiles I was very eager but obviously when it came to snakes it was a different story. The time came for snake handling and as per usual I couldn't stop crying and shaking and made a show of myself in front of the rest of the class who were mostly half my age. The Tutor gave me the camcorder to record all the other students taking their turns as a way of trying to keep my mind off what was happening. I never saw the recordings but I'm guessing that all that could be seen and heard was camera shake and the sound of my crying. After everyone else had their turn the Tutor and the Head Reptile Keeper both agreed that I was in too bad a state to risk going ahead with my turn (I think at this stage they were convinced that I was going to have a heart attack). That is when my stubborn streak kicked in and I said I had to do it. They decided to let the rest of the class out early and let me do it without an audience. I don't know who got the biggest shock them or me because I suddenly stopped shaking and crying and walked right up to Stu (the head reptile keeper) and took Joe the Carpet Python (in the photo above) in my hands and dealt with him as if I had never had a phobia in the first place.

By the time I left Australia I had worked with snakes in Zoos, Veterinary Hospitals and Wildlife Rehab Centres. I even got my Snake Catchers Licence. When I came back to Ireland I had 3 Corn Snakes living in my house, not mine but my son's, something that could never have happened before Australia.

If you are scared of something maybe you might find out that the thing that you are so scared of really isn't as bad as you think.

I would love to know if you have a fear or full blown phobia and if and how you have dealt with it. Feel free to let me know your story.

Cheers :)

Published by Lynette Lewis