Ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes

Ophidiophobia is the second most common phobia. So it can’t be surprising that residents in Massachusetts are less than thrilled with a plan to move a group of rattlesnakes to an off-limits island in the Quabbin Reservoir.

The plan, put in place by Tom French of the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is an effort to save the Timber Rattlesnake from extinction. Reportedly, there are only 200 of the snakes left. They’re on the brink due to loss of habitat and human-caused deaths. But for some people, 200 rattlers is 200 too many.

Individuals who live on or around the reservoir’s coast are worried about the plan for a very simple reason: rattlesnakes swim! So while moving the snakes to the island might remove them from their main threat, can you be sure they’ll remain out of harms way?

If they do swim across the reservoir and return to civilization, hikers and nature enthusiasts are worried about what that might mean for their preferred past time.

When the inevitable happens, and there is an interplay between a hiker and a rattler, what’s the repercussion? Are the trails around the Quabbin going to be shut down?

Conservation efforts are often to be commended, but the question must be asked, how many snake attacks will be seen as too many before the plan gets shut down?

Chances are, there won’t be any direct repercussions from moving the snakes to their new home. Rattlesnakes rarely attack without being provoked, and they tend to give a strong warning first. And if there’s a sufficient food source on the island, there’s little to no reason the snakes would leave it. But what if they over breed without any natural predator to keep their numbers in check, and then branch out?

People are afraid that we’re going to put snakes in a place of public use and that they are going to breed like rabbits and spread over the countryside and kill everybody. -Tom French

Tom jokes about this worry, but are these fears so far fetched? Maybe nothing will happen, or maybe some small town in Massachusetts will become the inspiration of a new on Sy-Fy.