Thoughts on those who slither... (and another poll to satisfy more curiosity)

There's an interesting study which was appeared in National Geographic over 10 years ago: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/10/1004_snakefears.html

tl;dr: Snakes haven't really evolved in a significant way in quite a long time.  Over eons of evolution of mammals, snakes were a persistent danger to them, thus mammals, in general, are predisposed to fear of snakes.  We can spot their slithering motion more than other small animals based on this evolutionary drive, and the phobias against them are deeply rooted in our genetic makeup.

It's not surprising that people tend to be have a rather polar bias with snakes; many give in to that primal fear and never overcome it while others are likely attracted to them for the very reason that they trigger such reactions deep in their minds, as well as the very fact that they are so very primitive yet seem so deadly.

I know the people who read this are not really a "typical" sample of the human population, but I'm curious as to people's reactions to snakes, so I'm going to try another poll.  This one's even a bit shorter.  Thanks again...  It's interesting to see what this community thinks about this sort of thing.

EDIT: Replace the "snake" in the first answer to the last question with whatever animal applies.

Poll #1943066 Attitudes towards those of the serpentine nature

What's your attitude toward small, harmless snakes (corn snakes, garter snakes, small pythons, etc...)

Pretty! Can I have one as a pet? (Or "I already have one as a pet.")
5(17.2%)
If the opportunity arises, I'll let one slither around my hand without hesitation.
16(55.2%)
I wouldn't freak out holding one, but would rather not.
5(17.2%)
They're nice to look at... Inside a glass enclosure, where I'd rather them stay.
1(3.4%)
I'd really rather not see a live snake, even inside an enclosure.
2(6.9%)
Pictures of snakes make me uncomfortable.
0(0.0%)
I'm uncomfortable even talking about them.
0(0.0%)

What about more dangerous ones, either large enough to be a risk to humans or venomous?

Pretty! Can I have one as a pet? (Or "I already have one as a pet.")
0(0.0%)
If the opportunity arises, I'll let one slither around my hand so long as it could be done safely somehow.
9(31.0%)
I wouldn't freak out holding one in a safe situation, but would rather not.
7(24.1%)
They're nice to look at... Inside a glass enclosure, where I'd rather them stay.
11(37.9%)
I'd really rather not see a live dangerous snake, even inside an enclosure.
1(3.4%)
Pictures of dangerous snakes make me uncomfortable.
1(3.4%)
I'm uncomfortable even talking about them.
0(0.0%)

Imagine a world mostly human but with a small percentage of people being "animal morphs." You're the human you are now, and a large snake-creature (the typical "snake with arms" naga sort of character) moves in next door.

The moment I saw him or her, I'd try to figure out how to get a date with them.
2(6.9%)
I'd go out of my way to be friends with such an interesting creature.
7(24.1%)
I'd certainly be friendly with them, but no more or less than the werewolf (or other "animal person") living across the street.
16(55.2%)
I'd try to remain friendly, but the things they eat are nearly as large as I am; it's hard not to be scared of them.
2(6.9%)
I'd be too scared of them / freaked out / creeped out to really interact with them at all.
2(6.9%)

In the same world as above, the company who makes the "body morphs" to let you become the "animal people" is coming out with the new "naga" model, the "snake with arms" sort of creature. You can't QUITE afford it but it's not entirely out of reach. (This presumes the "morphs" would be common enough not to leave you unemployable, or too much of a freak.)

Yeah, I was one of the beta testers! It was risky, but I got to be a snake before anyone else, at half the normal price!
3(10.3%)
I'll take out a loan and save every penny I can to purchase the transformation.
0(0.0%)
I can wait a year or so until I've saved up enough to afford it.
2(6.9%)
Maybe if the price comes way down. Maybe.
5(17.2%)
No, I'll pass.
18(62.1%)
Why would anyone willingly do that to themselves?
1(3.4%)

Just for comparison, in the same world, presume whatever species you are most interested in also has a similar "animal person" morph available. Same options as above, same condition that it wouldn't leave you unemployable.

Yeah, I was one of the beta testers! It was risky, but I got to be a snake before anyone else, at half the normal price!
6(20.7%)
I'll take out a loan and save every penny I can to purchase the transformation.
4(13.8%)
I can wait a year or so until I've saved up enough to afford it.
8(27.6%)
Maybe if the price comes way down. Maybe.
8(27.6%)
No, I'll pass.
3(10.3%)
Why would anyone willingly do that to themselves?
0(0.0%)
There is a red-tail python in the household, but I'm not the companion - just a roommate :)
That was actually the strangest thing, when I first got my little corn snake. I was used to dealing with cats, dogs, and other warm-blooded animals. When you touch them, they're warm and it was odd to feel her sliding over my fingers so cool. I think something deep in my mind kept telling me, "living animals aren't supposed to feel cool to the touch!"

Perhaps that little bit of alien nature is part of the aversion some people feel as well.
Sorry but I was honest with this one, I am terrified of snakes, irrational phobia of mine, so yeah....
No need to apologize, that's actually kind of what I was interested in. As the article states (which is an interesting read), there's almost certainly a evolutionary basis for the phobia. I've actually found it interesting how many respondents have basically identified that phobia (roughly 10%).

In fact, there's one question I wish I'd asked given that... For those who have the negative reactions to snakes, how do you react when I'm portraying Odontaspis (the snake character)? Do you put the snake out of your mind then, realize it's not real and thus be unbothered, or is there some other reaction?

Actually, perhaps an even better question lies out there... Presume you know (human) me personally, like me, even if when you're at my house you prefer me to keep Sybaris' pen closed and locked (she's my little corn snake). That "snake man" morph comes out, and I buy it. Do you have to break off ever hanging out after that?

I hope you don't mind me asking these questions? I really find these sorts of things just generally interesting, I suppose as much from an academic viewpoint as anything else.

Edited at 2013-11-14 06:29 pm (UTC)
I've found the most common phobia out there is spiders, of which I have no problems with at all.

Not sure if I have ever interacted with you in the Odontapis character but I'd be intrigued. I should clarify that larger snakes like boas tend not to freak me out as much as the smaller snakes. Not sure why but larger snakes I just find interesting to look at. I haven't had the opportunity to interact one on one with them but it would be interesting to see if the fear would still be there.

Never met you as a human personally, though I'd love to but I don't think I'd break off hanging out.

No not at all its rather interesting to be honest.

Odon, in character, can be a very frightening creature. I mean, he IS a man-eater, after all. A typical discussion, even when he intends to be friendly may well go along the following lines:

Odon: *slithers up to someone*
Someone: Uh. Hi. You, uh, aren't going to eat me, are you?
Odon: Well, I don't make promises unless I am certain I am going to keep them, so I can't promise that. I don't have any intentions along those lines at the moment, but things certainly can change.

I guess it largely depends on the context of the interaction. When I'm online on IRC playing the snake, I tend to pick on people but don't really go beyond that. When I'm online in places more appropriate for him to be a cruel predator, he's well, a cruel predator, and he's got both muscles and fangs to back that up.
Of the common "creepy-crawlies" people are usually afraid of, snakes are at the bottom of the list. Insects and arachnids are the ones that get me creeped out the most.