About Animal Phobias (Zoophobia)


Creature Courage is a based around helping people overcoming their fears of animals. First, let’s establish what defines a phobia. According to the NHS website:

 A Phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.




Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object. If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that’s causing them anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can also cause a lot of distress.

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. You may not experience any symptoms until you come into contact with the source of your phobia.

However, in some cases, even thinking about the source of a phobia can make a person feel anxious or panicky. This is known as anticipatory anxiety.


Symptoms may include:

  • Unsteadiness, dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling or shaking
  • An upset stomach

The fear of animals is called Zoophobia. Someone who has Zoophobia might be afraid of all non human animals or just  afraid of a certain type, like the fear of insects (Entomophobia). A person with this fear would be generally afraid of most insects or could just be afraid of a specific type of insect, let’s say bees (apiphobia). Even if the person just had a fear of bees, this would still be classified as a form of Zoophobia. To the left is a list of  the common animal phobias and their scientific names.

Why do people have a fear of animals? For many who love animals it might seem hard to relate to. Unfortunately, for people who develop fear and anxiety around animals it can severely limit many of life’s enjoyments as many animals are unpredictable and hard to avoid.

I use the word develop because though people might think that some people are simply born with a fear of animals such as spiders and snakes but this is actually not true. There are only two fears we are born with, the fear of loud noises (Phonophobia) and the fear of falling (basophobia). Everything else is learnt. But our brains are built to learn quickly to keep us out of danger. Sometimes the brain registers things as a danger that are not actually a danger, but the brain would rather us be safe than sorry. Our instincts are there to keep us safe not actually happy!

So we usually learn in childhood to be afraid of certain animals from one or two sources.  If a child has a parent, sibling, or other close relative that has a phobia they will easily learn and pick up the phobia through watching and observing. Children are incredibly absorbent in the first years of their lives and parents and other older relatives are where they form their foundations of reality.  If a family member acts afraid of an animal, a child will learn that it is a source of danger.

The second way we learn phobias is to have an experience that frightens us as a child. This could be as simple as walking through a spider’s web or seeing a mouse unexpectedly that made us jump. Or maybe someone fell off a horse and now can’t stand to be around them. Something traumatic or perceived as traumatic or scary at the time creates a subconscious trigger in our brains as something to avoid. Many people can’t even remember what happened to make them afraid of the animal in the first place but somewhere along the line, the fear was learnt.

In my work with people who have a form of Zoophobia, I have noticed that usually they have more than just one phobia. It might not be a specific animal related phobia, but it seems that a person with a phobic mindset suffer from anxiety in multiple areas of their lives. Very often, people with one sort of animal fear will also have another. For instance, when I was advertising for our Dog Courage workshop most of the people wanting to go on the workshop also had a fear of spiders and a few other animals like snakes.

The good news is that often only doing one Creature Courage Workshop is sufficient for treating multiple phobias as the techniques can be used for any anxiety or phobia. One could do the Spider Courage Experience and use the techniques to also conquer their dog phobia. Though doing another workshop to get the immersive therapy side of things is also a good idea. Alternatively, you can do one workshop and simply arrange to do the immersive side of a different animal privately with us.




List of Common Animal Phobias

Ants: The fear of ants: Myrmecophobia

Bats: The fear of bats: Chiroptophobia

Bears: The fear of bears: Arkoudaphobia

Bees: The fear of bees: Melissophobia and also Apiphobia

Birds: The fear of birds: Ornithophobia READ MORE

Butterflies: The fear of butterflies: Lepidopterophobia

Cats: The fear of cats: Ailurophobia READ MORE

Cockroaches: the fear of cockroaches: Katsaridaphobia

Dogs: The fear of dogs: Cynophobia READ MORE

Flies: The fear of flies: Pteronarcophobia

Frogs: The fear of frogs: Batrachophobia and also Ranidaphobia

Fish: The fear of fish: Ichthyophobia

Insects: The fear of insects: Entomophobia and Insectophobia READ MORE

Horses: The fear of horses: Equinophobia, Hippophobia

Lizards: The fear of lizards: Herpetophobia

Mice: The fear of mice: Musophobia READ MORE

Moths: The fear of moths: Mottephobia

Rats: The fear of rats: Murophobia READ MORE

Reptiles and Amphibians: The fear of reptiles and amphibians: Herpetophobia

Rodents: The fear of all rodents:Suriphobia READ MORE

Sharks: The fear of sharks: Selachophobia, Galeophobia

Snakes: The fear of snakes: Ophidiophobia Read More

Spiders: The fear of spiders: Arachnophobia

Wasp: The fear of wasp: Spheksophobia

Wolves: The fear of wolves: Lupophobia

Worms: The fear of worms: Helminthophobia, Scoleciphobia, Vermiphobia