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Top 10 Weird Animal Phobias

by Jenny Snook
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Zoophobia is the overall fear of animals, but why are some people terrified by just one kind such as a fish (ichthyophobia) or even a worm (helminthophobia)? While some feel safe if they stay away from the place this animal is found, others can’t even watch them on TV. Having cynophobia (fear of dogs) and hearing a barking noise outside might make someone terrified to leave their house.

3.5% to 6.1% of the global population have arachnophobia or a fear of spiders and for me it’s the length of their legs and the speed they move that terrifies me. There are some more interesting reasons why people have these phobias that are discussed here. Such as, the parts toads used to play in witchcraft.

Top 10 Unbearable Phobias

10 Ichthyophobia (Fish)

While someone might be afraid of a dog or cat because they were attacked, they’re unlikely to be attacked by a fish so why does ‘ichthyophobia’ occur? Perhaps, they were attacked by a shark when they were young but the chances of this are pretty slim. Galeophobia is a fear of sharks. This is quite a common phobia and probably makes more sense to most people.

One kind of fish is a ‘flying fish’ so maybe this was something that scared them as a child. As fishes are seen by some to be dirty, slimy creatures, one of the most common causes of this problem is the belief that fish spread diseases. It could seem dangerous to eat them or even travel to a water source where they might be swimming around. Although they might be fine to go down to the seaside or near a lake as long as they don’t get in, for some people with the phobia, even going near these sources of water could be seen as life threatening.[1]

9 Cynophobia (Dogs)

Dog Meat
A fear of dogs or cynophobia is not a totally irrational phobia as many people have been chased or bitten by one at some time. Perhaps, when they were a child or if a sibling was attacked and the person witnessed this. Figures have shown that the number of dogs owned in the US in 2017 rose by over 20 million compared to a survey from 2000. It is likely for the person with the phobia to have at least one friend who owns a dog and they might be afraid to go around to their house. They might even be afraid to leave the house as there always seems to be someone out walking their dog. Even the sound of barking or whining could terrify them. A good way of curing this phobia could be to start off by exposing them to a puppy. Or, this could be a kitten, if someone has ailurophobia, or a fear of cats.[2]

8 Ailurophobia (Cats)

This fear of cats is known by many other names such as ‘gatophobia’ and ‘felinophobia’. Although people aren’t seen out walking their cats, it could still be hard for anyone with the phobia to go around to a friends’ houses if they have one. They’d probably have to ask them to keep it in another room. Sometimes, even a ‘meow’ could terrify them. Cats can be quite vicious and if a young child is scratched by one, this could lead to ailurophobia.

There are some famous conquerors such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great who are believed to have suffered from this phobia. Although historian Katharine MacDonagh states “no record exists of Napoleon either liking or hating cats,” she states in her book ‘Reigning Cats and Dogs: A History of Pets at Court Since the Renaissance’ that there is an old cultural myth that cats have a “magical ability to detect overweening of dictators.”[3]

7 Alektorophobia (Chickens)

While ornithophobia is the fear of birds, alektorophobia is a specific fear of chickens. This comes from the Greek word “alektor”, meaning rooster. It’s more likely if someone has lived in a rural location all their life and had a bad experience as a child. Perhaps, they got stuck in an area where there was a large flock. Once they’ve grown up, if they still have this phobia they might decide to live in an urban area where they don’t have to worry about farms that might hold hundreds of them.

Eating chicken might also disgust them, as well as other birds such as duck or turkey. It might not be such a good idea to invite them round for a Christmas dinner. An overall fear of birds could be more difficult to handle. Even in a city, some kind of bird is always likely to be lurking.[4]

6 Bufonophobia (Toads)

Like fish, toads are a species that are found around water and are often seen as repulsive, disease carrying creatures. Toads are more likely to be discovered in forested areas so this might be a place that someone with bufonophobia avoids. There are some species that are poisonous so the person might have heard about this. The giant toad, has the ability to kill humans and animals with the poison it emits.

There is also an association between toads and witchcraft and this could be something that the person with the phobia believes in. Sometimes toads were made part of a potion as a form of poison. There was even a belief that witches could be recognized by a small mark resembling a toad’s foot. Today, these are quite unlikely reasons for someone to be terrified of toads but, there are still some people who continue to believe it. Bufonophobia is part of the phobia ‘batraciophobia’ which is a more widespread overall fear of amphibians.[5]

10 Insane Phobias That You Won’t Believe Are Real

5 Scoleciphobia (Worms)

Worms are an animal species that keep our plants alive and are a critical part of the agricultural system. However, there are some people suffering from helminthophobia who won’t even walk on the grass because they know the worms are squirming around in the ground underneath.

Living underground, most people see them as a dirty species and not something they like to touch but those suffering from the phobia could insist on always walking on nothing but concrete. Perhaps, they found an infestation in their food in the past and they see worms as a threatening cause of contamination. It is even known for people to refuse to go outside without a bottle of bug poison to spray themselves and their surroundings with. They could even do this in the home, spraying their carpet just in case.[6]

4 Chiroptophobia (Bats)

While someone with cynophobia might be afraid of going out during the day with people out walking their dogs, people with chiroptohobia, are more likely to be afraid of going out at nighttime. In medieval Europe, if a bat entered the house, this was seen as a prediction of death in the family and coming up to Halloween, no one can go out without seeing one of them stuck to a window or hung up in a shop.

Although they’re not dangerous to humans, they’re still seen by by many as extremely ugly with their black leathery wings. All living in Latin America, there are only three species of bat that actually feed on blood. It seems that most people get their fear of bats watching films like Dracula and seen with red eyes, feeding on humans.[7]

3 Melissophobia (Bees)

Anyone who’s been stung before or just knows that they sting will naturally move out of the way or try to smack a bee if there’s one flying around. To most people, this just seems annoying, but there are others who could have a panic attack if they even see one or two flying around. Spheksophobia is the fear of wasps and it’s interesting that people with melissophobia could be terrified of bees but not bothered by a wasp.

There are some people suffering from insect sting allergies and if they are stung then this could be life-threatening, explaining why they suffer from the phobia. Others might not have the allergies but hear about people dying as a result of being stung, developing melissophobia. Insect-related phobias are one of the most common types and insectophobia is the fear of all of them.[8]

2 Equinophobia (Horses)

Horses are unlikely to chase someone like a dog and can’t sting someone like a bee so why are people afraid of them? Horse-riding is a popular hobby and if someone’s had a bad fall after being bucked off this could lead to a fear. Perhaps, they were kicked by a horse and broke a bone. Equinophobia is more likely to occur if this happened when the person was young.

This could lead to a phobia of riding horses or just by looking at one, they could remember being kicked and stay away completely. In some horror films, black stallions are shown as evil creatures with red beady eyes so this could make someone afraid of horses if they’ve watched a film like this at a young age.[9]

1 Ostraconophobia (Shellfish)

This is the overall fear of shellfish such as lobsters, crabs, squids and crayfish that are more likely to be found in the sea. People with this phobia might have a fear of the seaside but not be afraid to visit rivers. It could be more the fear of eating lobsters or prawns and they might find it impossible to even eat in a restaurant if they’re on the menu. The reason for this could be an allergy to eating shellfish or the memory of eating a meal that was gone-off.

Well-known American “Stock Car Racing” driver Denny Hamlin, suffered from ostraconophobia but sometimes people just don’t know why their phobia has occurred and he stated:

“I have a lobster phobia. I don’t know why. I just don’t like them. I cannot eat dinner if someone beside me is eating lobster. I can’t look at it. So as far as I’m concerned, they need to put it back in the water and let it live.”[10]

10 Well Known People and their Phobias

fact checked by Jamie Frater