I have talked to people going into the ‘bush’ in Canada who commonly express concerns about meeting grizzly bears. I never had cares about meeting such bears while working in northern British Columbia: perhaps a comforting ignorance on my part.

No – my fear was snakes. i was doing an inventory of wildlife in Ontario – and of course there were snakes, lots of them – black rat snakes. All right, so they are not poisonous. But they have a fair bite. I learned that the hard way.

I discovered a hut in a forest where I could bed-down for the night. The problem was it was already occupied – by guess what – lots of black rat snakes. I shovelled the lot of them out the door but they had a view about this unruly behaviour and came right back in again.

A violent thunderstorm and heavy rain had us all sharing a shelter as the only available place in out of the storm.

My fear was that these snakes would find their way into my sleeping bag for the bit of heat they would find there. for my part I was firmly of the view that I would not be imposed upon in such a manner.

The solution was for me to sleep on the rickety table in the hut and the snakes could have the floor. Can such snakes climb table legs? To this day I do not know the answer to that? Perhaps someone can assure me that they don’t?

I spent three nights on that table – no sleep – in case I fell off.

In TV wildlife programmes it is common to see people adopting indifference to dangers as though the loss of an arm would be no more than an inconvenience or the biting off of one’s head by a hungry lion at best an irritation. But surly that is all an act and when off camera and by themselves would their reactions be no different to mine?

That I come from an island where there are no snakes might account for my irrational reaction in that hut. This raises the question – do others too have irrational fears about particular animals. Fears that until now you have kept secret?

Come on – now is your chance to reveal your particular phobia. And more importantly – can you say why you hold such dread?

The confession box is now open Do come in and tell all. I want to hear lots of tails – OF DREAD!



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